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"I have lost confidence. While I hide it at work, my passion has been sapped. I know I am not alone..."

Written by "A RIM Employee" an internal "open letter" written by a "senior RIM executive" was published by Boy Genius Report and offers a stinging analysis of the company.

The letter contains a brutally honesty opening, followed by a list of suggestions.  A shortened version reads:

To the RIM Senior Management Team:

I have lost confidence.

While I hide it at work, my passion has been sapped. I know I am not alone — the sentiment is widespread and it includes people within your own teams.

Mike [Lazaridis, co-CEO,] and Jim [Basillie, co-CEO,], please take the time to really absorb and digest the content of this letter because it reflects the feeling across a huge percentage of your employee base. You have many smart employees, many that have great ideas for the future, but unfortunately the culture at RIM does not allow us to speak openly without having to worry about the career-limiting effects.

Before I get into the meat of the matter, I will say I am not part of a large group of bitter employees wishing to embarrass us. Rather, I believe these points need to be heard and I desperately want RIM to regain its position as a successful industry leader. Our carriers, distributors, alliance partners, enterprise customers, and our loyal end users all want the same thing… for BlackBerry to once again be leading the pack.

We are in the middle of major “transition” and things have never been more chaotic. Almost every project is falling further and further behind schedule at a time when we absolutely must deliver great, solid products on time. We urge you to make bold decisions about our organisational structure, about our culture and most importantly our products.

While we anxiously wait to see the details of the streamlining plan, here are some suggestions:

1) Focus on the End User experience
...
2) Recruit Senior SW Leaders & enable decision-making
...
3) Cut projects to the bone.
...
4) Developers, not Carriers can now make or break us
...
Developing for BlackBerry is painful, and despite what you’ve been told, things haven’t really changed that much since Jamie Murai’s letter. Our SDK / development platform is like a rundown 1990′s Ford Explorer. Then there’s Apple, which has a shiny new BMW M3… just such a pleasure to drive. Developers want and need quality tools
...
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.

Also an important note regarding our marketing: 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.
...
6) No Accountability – Canadians are too nice
...
7) The press and analysts are pissing you off. Don’t snap. Now is the time for humility with a dash of paranoia.
...
8) Democratise. Engage and interact with your employees — please!

Research In Motion Ltd. (TSE:RIM) has fired back a response, basically pointing to its strong profitability ($695M USD in Q1 2011), $3B USD cash surplus, large international market share growth (67 percent between Q1 2010 and Q1 2011).  The response also questions the letter's authenticity.  

A company spokesperson writes:
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.
Boy Genius Report denied the original allusions that the letter could have been fabricated, writing:
[W]e assure you, it is indeed genuine and its author has been vetted.
RIM's retort is relatively straightforward, but ignores the fact that slowly U.S. growth is often a sign of danger, as it was for Palm and Nokia (HEL:NOK1V).  Likewise the report ignores the #4 suggestion -- to woo developers -- at a time when developers are abandoning RIM.  Loss of developers was also a sign that proceeded the falls of Palm and Nokia.

It's too soon to write RIM off.  The company launched the smart phone movement (arguably), defining what it was to be "smart" phone, before the first iPhone even shipped.  That said, the company does appear to be struggling to create as exciting products as the competition and retain enough "fun" in its business lineup.

To that end RIM is looking to replace its stale old Blackberry OS with the new QNX operating system currently found in its PlayBook tablet.  While QNX looks decent, the question is whether it will be enough to lure in developers and customers.


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RE: "La La La I can't hear you!"
By amanojaku on 7/1/2011 10:42:56 AM , Rating: 2
It's unfortunate, because I think RIM makes the best out-of-the-box enterprise smart phone. It's telephone quality is much better than other smart phones, which are really mobile media devices as no one outside of the business world seems to use a phone any more. The security features, both on the phone and on the server, are vastly superior to any competitors, and is the main reason RIM is still around.

On the other hand, most people purchasing a "phone" don't give a damn about that, and RIM needs to wake up. Consumers need smart phones just as much as they need computers: not at all. Consumers can't patch, troubleshoot, or rebuild a computer: enter the iDiot Pad. A media consumption devices is what they need, something that can play movies, music and Angry Birds for 24 hours straight. An app store is what they want because they don't know how to read reviews beyond a star rating, and a button-less form factor is here to stay. None of which RIM seems to understand.

You need TWO device classes, RIM, and be prepared for the old class to die out.


By Omega215D on 7/1/2011 11:15:44 AM , Rating: 2
Their upcoming phones are pretty good hardware wise but it is yet to be seen how the software will be. The thing that made me stop using my Storm 2 was the web browser and certain apps that can be found on android or iOS weren't available on BB.

I'm still willing to give the Bold 9930 and Storm 3(?) a try if/ when they come out.


RE: "La La La I can't hear you!"
By quiksilvr on 7/1/2011 11:44:53 AM , Rating: 4
You don't even need two anymore. iPhone proved that. You want VMware? GoToMeeting? Outlook? Done. Virtual access to Windows Server? Done.

What they really need is a keyboard phone and a keyboard free phone.


RE: "La La La I can't hear you!"
By amanojaku on 7/1/2011 12:01:48 PM , Rating: 2
I used to sell Citrix and VMware, so I know what you mean. The current implementation sucks due to the tiny screens. A Motorola Atrix-like dock is what is needed, or a Wii-U like video transfer to a large screen. I refuse to Office on anything less than 13". Come to think of it, I wonder if that's the reason for the PlayBook...?


By quiksilvr on 7/1/2011 1:42:18 PM , Rating: 2
Well if you need to do that extensive work just plug it into a monitor and use the bluetooth for a keyboard and mouse.


RE: "La La La I can't hear you!"
By robinthakur on 7/1/2011 12:26:10 PM , Rating: 3
You might well scoff at the "Idiot Pad" philosophy, but why should general people need a degree in computing or an MCSE to understand how to use something? Shouldn't the goal be for it to be simple to use above all else? I think the sales would say yes. Computers should be powerful, *reliable* and tool like. Configuration and tweaking are not goals in and of themselves for 99.9% of purchasers.


By snakeInTheGrass on 7/1/2011 6:16:51 PM , Rating: 4
Hear hear.

The last time my parents and the majority of non-tech people I know in my neighborhood wanted to recompile the kernel was:
a) Never
b) What's a kernel?
c) What?
d) All of the above

The last time they wanted to deal with virus scans was:
...

Simple appliances cover the needs of a huge segment of the population. Simple != simple to develop, well thought out apps != stupid. It apparently = $ because people will pay to not suffer.


By someguy123 on 7/1/2011 6:26:59 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed. I spend too much time on the computer and can appreciate its inner workings and customization, but even I have a secondary computer that I leave alone and stable for work.

I think people that look at these devices that think they're too simplified are lacking a bit of perspective. If you're not a hobbyist you're more likely to want to keep it simple, stupid. The only issue I have with recent interfaces is that they trade a bit of response time for transitional animations.


RE: "La La La I can't hear you!"
By Reclaimer77 on 7/2/2011 9:03:32 AM , Rating: 1
So RIM needs to abandon their niche, and start marketing to the lowest common denominator? Most of who are already sucking from the Apple tit?

Great strategy. They should put you in charge.

Kids who want to look cool buy iPhones and Droids. Those who know, buy RIM. That's just the way it is. Their products are VERY good, excuse them for not being flashy enough.


RE: "La La La I can't hear you!"
By michael2k on 7/2/2011 9:31:36 AM , Rating: 2
How can you defend RIM? They've lost 5% in the US and are apparently going to move down to third worldwide behind Android and iOS. Management is screwing up.


RE: "La La La I can't hear you!"
By Reclaimer77 on 7/2/2011 9:39:33 AM , Rating: 4
lol You know every company can't be #1 in their market right? That doesn't mean "they fail" and we should toss them in an early grave. RIM fills a much needed, and appreciated, niche. Maybe it's not the most mass marketable thing on the planet, I grant you that, but that doesn't mean they should abandon what they do so well to dive into a market segment that they probably can't even compete in anyway.

People never take the long view on Daily Tech.


By retrospooty on 7/2/2011 6:16:41 PM , Rating: 2
"Those who know, buy RIM. That's just the way it is. Their products are VERY good, excuse them for not being flashy enough. "

LOL. I cant decide if you are joking , or that far behind the times. RIM does make a decent phone hardware wise, but the OS is years behind the rest of the world, and thier once great email service, is now totally obsolted by products that MS offers for FREE. Rimm is done, stick a fork in it. They will dwindle marketshare until they are gone, unless they start to change and fast.


"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer














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