Thoughts on RIM

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Posted by: stak
Posted on: 2011-06-30 15:05:21

It's been exactly a year (plus/minus a couple of hours), since I left RIM. RIM has fallen quite far behind its competitors in the last 12 months - much more than I thought would happen. There was a letter published today on today by a "senior RIM exec" basically ranting about the state of affairs at RIM. The letter is interesting, not because it contains anything new, but because it doesn't contain anything new. That letter would have been just as true when I left a year ago as it is today. Unfortunately, the letter itself isn't going to help, because RIM senior management already know all the issues they're facing. The only thing the letter will do is affect public perception of RIM unfavourably.

I remember when I started working at RIM, I loved it. I was proud to be part of that company, part of the team that built the BlackBerry. I knew that my work was going to be used by millions of people. That motivated me tremendously, to the point where I'd go in and write code late at night or on weekends sometimes even though there was no looming deadline or real need for it. When I left, the total opposite was true - there was a drive to get people to work evenings and weekends to get things done, but I consciously chose not to, because I felt it was a waste of my time. Somewhere along the way I lost the pride I had in RIM and my work, and once I realized that, the only reasonable option left for me was to leave RIM. And so I did.

I think one of the reasons I lost the pride I had in RIM is that they stopped having a mission statement. They used to have one - I don't remember exactly what it was, but it was something to the effect of providing the best value to their users. I do know that when I first heard it, I was impressed. I also know that when I tried to find the mission statement a year ago to try and regain some of my pride and sense of purpose, I wasn't able to. It wasn't on their website, wasn't anywhere to be found in the intranet hellhole called LiveLink, and wasn't posted in the lunch rooms like I remember it used to me (although to be fair I'm not sure if I'm misremembering that one).

I don't know what RIM can do to pull itself out of its current death spiral. I'm not sure if there is anything it can do. There's just so much wrong on the inside. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. As I've said before, everything comes to an end, and that includes products and companies. Maybe RIM falling apart will create some space for a new company that better fills the need people have.

Posted by varun at 2011-07-04 21:50:18
Two thoughts:
1. In your opinion, what viable alternative is there for companies that still want the relatively high security offered by BB OS, but their employees are complaining? We've been experimenting with MobileIron of late, but I wanted to ask if you had any thoughts. Much like Windows, it's got a lot of corporate inertia, and I wonder if anyone will find a replacement.

2. And speaking of which... whenever I see people wandering around with a iphone or android-powered phone, I often see them still reach into a bag or another pocket to pull out a BB to look at mail from the office. But all the people carrying BBs seem to only have BBs, no other phones.

Between corporate inertia and the diehards, RIM might well have a pretty big market for years to come.

PS - do you read Michael Mace? Interesting read in particular on RIM recently, but see his prediction from Oct 2010 as well - it seems to have been spot on!
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