Everyone was doing it, some in the open, some only while nobody was watching. But everybody was calling for the dual CEOs of Research in Motion, or RIM, the maker of the business-standard BlackBerry device, to step down. It finally happened over the weekend, and now Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie are left as board members and consultants to new acting CEO Thorsten Heins, the firm’s former Chief Operating Officer.
Where will Heins turn for advice on where to steer the BlackBerry brand? It’s a product that is losing market share, more than a year away from the release of its next major software update, and making absolutely no headway in the very fast-growing tablet market. One place where there’s a lot of advice is among online tech publications. Writers, columnists, and naysayers ahve been cooking up plans for BlackBerry ever since the iPhone arrived.
Here, for your Monday-morning-quarterbacking, back-seat-driving, unsolicited-advice-giving pleasure, are the plans that the tech set have been pushing:
“Change … the culture inside RIM”: Nobody really disagrees with this point, and obviously the company and its stakeholders saw fit to at least shake up the upper portions of the company with the resignation of the firm’s founding CEOs. But GigaOM, among others, likely wants to see more drastic change than a masthead move. Drastic moves like …
“Sell to somebody--anybody”: The strongest, and yet least founded, buyout talk was centered on electronics maker Samsung, but there have been a succession of possible suitors: Amazon, Microsoft, Nokia, a Microsoft and Nokia joint venture, and private equity turn-around firms, among others. Just last week, Reuters reported that RIM hired investment bankers Goldman Sachs to field purchase offers. Why would anyone want to grab hold of a firm that is losing market share and stock market value? Because RIM likely holds some valuable patents, suggests Tony Bradley at PC World, and because one could ...
“Make BlackBerry into a service provider and drop the handsets”: What is RIM without BlackBerry? In some investors and pundits’ eyes, it’s a firm that manages a security-minded data platform that has lots of government and big business customers that have invested heavily in its architecture. Licensing its forthcoming QNX software has supposedly been discussed, and new CEO Heins said he was open to the idea. BlackBerry as a platform provider is obviously a smaller company than the handset maker, but it’s also a company that certain phone makers would want to partner up with, if only to offer secure BlackBerry email and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) services on their own phones.
Stop blaming the marketing: Like the “culture change” advice, nobody thinks this is a bad idea. RIM’s newly-minted CEO stated Sunday that the company “needs to be more marketing-driven.” It’s true that RIM’s attempt to portray their phones as chic lifestyle items may fall on many deaf ears, but only because the devices themselves, and the software they run, don’t exactly exude that certain cachet. Fix the product, then tell a story about it.
Got your own unsolicited advice for RIM? Seen any good articles about what the BlackBerry maker should do? Let’s hear it in the comments.
Top photo and thumbnail image by RichardBH.