Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
1/24/2012
11:13 AM
Chris Spera
Chris Spera
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

RIM: Righting The Management Ship

RIM has ditched its CEOs. But does it have a strategy for what's next?

Step 1: Get rid of the Co-CEOs.

Check. Now what?

RIM's 2011 was ugly--a botched tablet introduction in the Blackberry Playbook, little to no hardware or software innovation (though they do have something simmering now), and a steady plummet in market share and stock value.

As I've said before, unless RIM does something fast, 2012 is going to be even uglier. And now RIM's Co-CEOs have stepped aside and a new CEO and independent chair have been appointed.

When I read this, I gasped out loud. Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie previously had shown no interest--despite what seems to have been constant calls from investors and industry experts--in stepping away from the leadership roles of the company they co-founded. In their place, new CEO Thorsten Heins and independent board chair Barbara Stymiest are taking the helm.

Thorsten Heins joined RIM as a senior vice president of hardware engineering in December 2007, and later became COO of product and sales in August. He has over 27 years of consumer electronic and wireless network experience. The Wall Street Journal has characterized him as a "little-known company insider," so it should be interesting watching what he does with the company in these first few tentative months of a critical year for RIM.

[ The new CEO is already unpopular in some circles. See RIM Investors Give Thumbs Down On New CEO. ]

Barbara Stymiest, RIM's new chair, joined the company in March 2007. She currently serves as a member of the Royal Bank of Canada's Group Executive. Her biography on the RIM site lists a large number of boards she sits on.

ComputerWorld's Johnny Evans thinks that this change, while needed, isn't going to help much. He's even more down on RIM that I've been, saying that RIM has totally collapsed under the assault from an extremely competitive handset market. He's got a point. According to the data he cites, RIM places dead last in customer handset satisfaction as well as consumer intent to purchase a specific smartphone in the next 90 days.

[ Eric Zeman lists has advice for Thorsten Heins. See 5 Must-Do Items for RIM's new CEO ]

Heins' plans for righting the company aren't known at this time, and it isn't clear if he actually has a strategy. RIM's press release on the new appointments quotes Heins as saying that "he looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Lazaridis, globally recognized as a technology pioneer." The release further provides what appears to be simply positive spin on the transition and what was unquestionably a challenging year.

Heins needs to take action. He must assess, plan, and mitigate risk. I don't necessarily want RIM to evaporate, but what its investors, customers, and the industry don't need is dead weight impeding innovation. I've outlined what I think is a reasonable plan for a better year from RIM. The only question I have now: is Heins bold enough to act in RIM's best interests and save its investor's money? Time will tell.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - August 27, 2014
Who wins in cloud price wars? Short answer: not IT. Enterprises don't want bare-bones IaaS. Providers must focus on support, not undercutting rivals.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Howard Marks talks about steps to take in choosing the right cloud storage solutions for your IT problems
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.