Senior RIM Exec Open letter to BlackBerry

  • Posted: 30 June 2011 03:05 PM

    Open letter to BlackBerry bosses: Senior RIM exec tells all as company crumbles around him

    By: Jonathan S. Geller

    We have received an open letter to Mike and Jim from a high-level RIM employee (whose identity we have verified)...

    1) Focus on the End User experience

    Let?s obsess about what is best for the end user. We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice ? the end user doesn?t care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren?t hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work. Android has a major weakness ? it will always lack the simplicity and elegance that comes with end-to-end device software, middleware and hardware control. We really have a great opportunity to build something new and ?uniquely BlackBerry? with the QNX platform.

    Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android, we should encourage key decision makers across the board to use these products as their primary device for a week or so at a time…

    3) Cut projects to the bone.

    There is a serious need to consolidate our focus to just a handful of projects. Period.

    We need to be disciplined here. We can?t afford any more initiatives based on carrier requests to squeeze out slightly more volume. Again, back to point #1, focus on the end users….Strategy is often in the things you decide not to do.

    On that note, we simply must stop shipping incomplete products that aren?t ready for the end user. It is hurting our brand tremendously. It takes guts to not allow a product to launch that may be 90% ready with a quarter end in sight, but it will pay off in the long term.

    Look at Apple in 1997 for tips here. I really want you to watch this video because it has never been more relevant. It is our friend Steve Jobs in 97 and it may as well be you speaking to RIM employees and partners today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LEXae1j6EY

    4) Developers, not Carriers can now make or break us

    We urgently need to invest like we never have before in becoming developer friendly….There is no polite way to say this, but it?s true ? BlackBerry smartphone apps suck.

    5) Need for serious marketing punch to create end user desire

    25 million iPad users don?t care that it doesn?t have Flash or true multitasking, so why make that a focus in our campaigns? I?ll answer that for you: it?s because that?s all that differentiates our products and its lazy marketing. I?ve never seen someone buy product B because it has something product A doesn?t have. People buy product B because they want and lust after product B.

    My mother wants an iPad and iPhone because it is simple and appeals to her. Powerful multitasking doesn?t.

    7) The press and analysts are pissing you off. Don?t snap. Now is the time for humility with a dash of paranoia.

    (O)verconfidence clouds good decision-making. We missed not boldly reacting to the threat of iPhone when we saw it in January over four years ago. We laughed and said they are trying to put a computer on a phone, that it won?t work. We should have made the QNX-like transition then. We are now 3-4 years too late.

    Sincerely,

    A RIM Employee

         
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    Posted: 30 June 2011 03:08 PM #1

    P.S.  I should’ve written this three to four years ago.  And you should have thought of this three to four years ago anyway.

    Sincerely,

    Who Cares If It’s a RIM Employee or Not, It’s the Friggin’ Truth

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    Posted: 30 June 2011 03:42 PM #2

    That’s a great letter - worth reading the whole thing. One thing I’m not so sure about:

    We really have a great opportunity to build something new and ?uniquely BlackBerry? with the QNX platform.

    My layman’s impression is that QNX is not ideal for mobile devices (battery life issues). If that cannot be remedied, RIM is chasing a will-o’-the-wisp. Maybe they should team up with HP and use WebOS. Unlike the Nokia/Microsoft alliance, they could make it exclusive.

         
  • Posted: 30 June 2011 04:01 PM #3

    Drew Bear - 30 June 2011 06:42 PM

    That’s a great letter - worth reading the whole thing. One thing I’m not so sure about:

    We really have a great opportunity to build something new and ?uniquely BlackBerry? with the QNX platform.

    My layman’s impression is that QNX is not ideal for mobile devices (battery life issues).

    I think QNX could be the greatest mobile operating system on the face of the planet and it would still be too late for RIM. The best operating system does not always win. We of the Mac persuasion should certainly be able to verify that.

    I used to say this in regard to Microsoft, but now I think I can apply it to a slew of other companies as well: Stop trying go where Apple is and start looking for a place where Apple isn’t and where you can dominate.

    It’s like they are all playing checkers and they all keep pushing their pieces into the space already occupied by Apple. It ain’t going to happen. If you want to beat Apple - if you want to have a CHANCE to beat Apple - leapfrog them. Go where Apple isn’t and where your strengths lie.

    Easy to say and hard to do, right? But is it harder to do than banging your head against the unmovable wall that is Apple? Wake up! Don’t be Apple. (Yes, I’m talking to you Samsung.) Don’t try to be ever so slightly better than Apple. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Zune, Windows Phone 7, PlayBook and TouchPad). Be better and DIFFERENT from Apple.

    Carve out a new path. Apple’s already been here, done that and moved on.

         
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    Posted: 30 June 2011 04:57 PM #4

    ” Apple?s already been here, done that and moved on.”

    HAHA. I remember a time when Microsoft entering a market meant that it was “time to move on”. Except that Microsoft dominated markets (like IE over Netscape) via use of monopoly and Apple uses good ole product quality instead.

         
  • Posted: 30 June 2011 05:16 PM #5

    RIM?s Response to ?Open Letter?

    An ?Open Letter? to RIM?s senior management was published anonymously on the web today and it was attributed to an unnamed person described as a ?high level employee?. It is obviously difficult to address anonymous commentary and it is particularly difficult to believe that a ?high level employee? in good standing with the company would choose to anonymously publish a letter on the web rather than engage their fellow executives in a constructive manner, but regardless of whether the letter is real, fake, exaggerated or written with ulterior motivations, it is fair to say that the senior management team at RIM is nonetheless fully aware of and aggressively addressing both the company?s challenges and its opportunities.

    RIM recently confirmed that it is nearing the end of a major business and technology transition. Although this transition has taken longer than anticipated, there is much excitement and optimism within the company about the new products that are lined up for the coming months. There is a fundamental business reality however that following an extended period of hyper growth (during which RIM nearly quadrupled in size over the past 5 years alone), it has become necessary for the company to streamline its operations in order to allow it to grow its business profitably while pursuing newer strategic opportunities. Again, RIM?s management team takes these challenges seriously and is actively addressing the situation. The company is thankfully in a solid business and financial position to tackle the opportunities ahead with a solid balance sheet (nearly $3 billion in cash and no debt), strong profitability (RIM?s net income last quarter was $695 million) and substantial international growth (international revenue in Q1 grew 67% over the same quarter last year). In fact, while growth has slowed in the US, RIM still shipped 13.2 million BlackBerry smartphones last quarter (which is about 100 smartphones per minute, 24 hours per day) and RIM is more committed than ever to serving its loyal customers and partners around the world.

         
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    Posted: 30 June 2011 05:36 PM #6

    seba - 30 June 2011 08:16 PM

    RIM?s Response to ?Open Letter?

    Better say nothing rather than repeat the lame excuses given during the recent earnings call. These nearly instantaneous PR responses to criticism really highlight the CEOs’ thin skins.

         
  • Posted: 30 June 2011 05:38 PM #7

    Ah, so it turns out RIM’s only problem is the prankster who’s going around writing fake letters.

    Idiots.

         
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    Posted: 30 June 2011 05:40 PM #8

    RIM: Baird Sees Developers Stray From ?QNX,?...

    ?35% of BlackBerry developers plan to shift some or all of their work away from QNX now that RIM plans to support Android applications. In our view, this doesn?t bode well for the long-term QNX eco-system.?

    http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2011/06/30/rim-baird-sees-developers-stray-from-qnx-ios-android-gain/?mod=yahoobarrons

         
  • Posted: 30 June 2011 05:51 PM #9

    seba - 30 June 2011 08:16 PM

    RIM?s Response to ?Open Letter?

    When I saw that RIM had responded, I cringed. As Drew Bear said, above, it’s probably best not to respond to these sort of things. But as far as responses go, this was pretty good.

    Now you may pull that response apart and say that it contains the essence of what’s wrong with RIM’s business strategies. And if you’ve read my commentary in this thread and elsewhere, you’ll know that I think RIM blew it and that they are continuing to blow it.

    But still, as far as responses go, this one was probably as good as it gets.

         
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    Posted: 30 June 2011 06:06 PM #10

    An Anonymous response to an anonymous letter?  And darn quick too.

    I think all this shadow boxing is not going to help RIMM make progress with the people (and companies) it has to convince.

    If a reply is warranted, don’t do it so quickly so that it appears thoughtful and measured rather than “knee jerk”, attribute it to someone, and set some parameters that readers can measure the sincerity of the statements against.

    I didn’t see any of that here.

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    Posted: 30 June 2011 06:25 PM #11

    The guy who spilled the beans was on Fast Money today and said he was releasing 2 more letters tomorrow. Ouch.

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    Posted: 30 June 2011 06:50 PM #12

    mbeauch - 30 June 2011 09:25 PM

    The guy who spilled the beans was on Fast Money today and said he was releasing 2 more letters tomorrow. Ouch.

    And will RIMM respond? 

    The company made a foolish blunder by shooting out a quick and dirty broad response to the first letter. Now there is a “dialogue” that the first writer can use in his subsequent letters. He will quote from the company response and keep drilling. RIMM is in a bad place now…keep the “dialogue” going or try to shut it down?  With everybody watching?

    Contrast this to Apple’s response to the recent hubbub over a certain professional video editing software release. Wait a few days, let the exact nature of the complaints/concerns rise to the top, then issue a FAQ which is responsive but also strategic in its arguments and outlook….. and not at all defensive.

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    Posted: 30 June 2011 07:08 PM #13

    Red, what are they going to do, give BB owners their money back. :bugeyed:  RIMM has internal problems and they will only get worse because the witch hunt that ensues will destroy whatever is left. The problem is that instead of taking the letter for what it is, (the truth), it appears there will be a scorched Earth policy. They are cutting employees, if I worked there I would be getting out before the hammer hit me over the head.  :bugeyed:

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  • Posted: 30 June 2011 08:47 PM #14

    Red shirted ensign - 30 June 2011 09:50 PM
    mbeauch - 30 June 2011 09:25 PM

    The guy who spilled the beans was on Fast Money today and said he was releasing 2 more letters tomorrow. Ouch.

    And will RIMM respond? 

    The company made a foolish blunder by shooting out a quick and dirty broad response to the first letter. Now there is a “dialogue” that the first writer can use in his subsequent letters. He will quote from the company response and keep drilling.

    Agreed. It was a mistake to respond.

    I said, above, that RIM’s response was about as good as they get. That still doesn’t mean that it was good.

         
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    Posted: 30 June 2011 08:55 PM #15

    From RIM’s open letter:

    There is a fundamental business reality however that following an extended period of hyper growth (during which RIM nearly quadrupled in size over the past 5 years alone), it has become necessary for the company to streamline its operations in order to allow it to grow its business profitably while pursuing newer strategic opportunities.

    For ordinary businesses, maybe.  Who weren’t streamlined to begin with.

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