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Fill it to the RIM — With Fail

September 30th, 2013 - 7:14 am

Globe and Mail has a long piece on the long fall from grace of BlackBerry/RIM that I spent some time with over the weekend. Here’s just one sordid detail:

Inside RIM, the brash Mr. Balsillie had championed a bold strategy to re-establish the company’s place at the forefront of mobile communications. The plan was to push wireless carriers to adopt RIM’s popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instant messaging service as a replacement for their short text messaging system (SMS) applications – no matter what kind of phone their customers used.

It was a novel plan. If RIM could get BBM onto hundreds of millions of non-BlackBerry phones, and charge fees for it, the company would have an enormous new source of profit, Mr. Balsillie believed. “It was a really big idea,” said an employee who was involved in the project.

But the plan ran into stiff opposition at senior levels. Not long after Mr. Heins took over as RIM’s CEO in January, 2012, he killed it, with Mr. Lazaridis’s support.

That was it for Mr. Balsillie. Weeks later, he resigned from the board and cut his ties to the company.

“My reason for leaving the RIM board in March, 2012, was due to the company’s decision to cancel the BBM cross-platform strategy,” Mr. Balsillie said in a brief statement to The Globe and Mail, his first public comments on his departure. He declined a request for an interview.

BlackBerry finally did release BBM for Android and iOS a week or so ago, only to immediately pull it due to security and server concerns.

And that’s been the story of BlackBerry for years now — unable to put enough resources behind any one project (Storm, PlayBook, BlackBerry 7, BB10) to make it a success.

Read the whole thing for a series of lessons on exactly what not to do.

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The plan was to push wireless carriers to adopt RIM’s popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instant messaging service as a replacement for their short text messaging system (SMS) applications – no matter what kind of phone their customers used.

What I don't get is how the hell they'd get the carriers to accept that. SMS is a nice profit center for carriers, as I understand it, and what would they gain from adding BBM to semi-replace that? (Since there are legacy and dumb-phone users, still, and foreigners roaming, you can't just stop supporting SMS...)

I predict in ten years BB fanatics will be like Amiga fanatics - a dying breed obsessed with something that was very briefly near-superior, and then slowly died. Maybe someone will make "BlackDroid" or somesuch, a BlackBerry skin on Android, to soothe them?
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Indeed, it is a "plan" that shows an extraordinary amount of ignorance of how telcom companies actually work, what their profit centers are, and their investment in existing infrastructure.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
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