Mobile
Commentary
6/30/2011
12:06 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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RIM Employee Blasts Leadership In Letter, RIM Responds

A well-placed manager at Research In Motion has published a letter to the company's executives, beseeching them to make the bold decisions needed to save the company. Late Thursday, RIM responded.

4. Developers, Not Carriers, Can Make Or Break Us

This has never been truer. While having distribution points via the major wireless network operators is critical, it isn't everything. The smartphone space has transitioned to one of ecosystems, and right now Apple, Google, and Microsoft are in the lead.

Scathingly, the author writes, "We urgently need to invest like we never have before in becoming developer friendly. The return will be worth every cent. There is no polite way to say this, but it's true--BlackBerry smartphone apps suck. Even PlayBook, with all its glorious power, looks like a Fisher Price toy with its Adobe AIR/Flash apps."

The author wants to get easier-to-use tools into the hands of developers ASAP so they'll be interested in writing for BlackBerrys.

"If we create great tools, we will see great work. Offer [crap] tools and we shouldn't be surprised when we see [crap] apps."

5. Much Better Marketing

The author calls out what he/she believes to be bad product marketing on RIM's part. Rather than focus on technical features that no one appears to care about, it should be focusing on the overall experience.

"A product's technical superiority does not equal desire, and therefore sales. ... How many Linux laptops are getting sold? How did Betamax go? My mother wants an iPad and iPhone because it is simple and appeals to her. Powerful multitasking doesn't."

Entice end-users to care about investing in the entire ecosystem based on compelling features, and sales will follow.

6. Hold Employees Accountable For Failure

"Canadians are too nice," says the author, pointing out that tons of under-performing employees remain with the company despite their lack of contributions.

"No one is accountable. Where is the guy responsible for the 9530 software? Still with us, still running some important software initiative. We will never achieve excellence with this culture. Just because someone may have been a loyal RIM employee for 7 years, it doesn't mean they are the best Manager/Director/VP for that role. It's time to change the culture to deliver or move on and get out."

I would say this point ties back well with point number two about giving managers more authority and control over their products. Managers who are held responsible for their teams' output need to, in turn, hold their employees responsible for the teams' output, as well.

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