Research in Motion’s (RIM) recent woes have been well documented: poor results, run-ins with the media and a failure to release cutting-edge new kit have seen the BlackBerry-maker fail to make up ground on key rivals. And the release of an open letter from a senior RIM staffer, detailing a business devoid of morale and failing to make the necessary changes to ensure future success, has brought the whole issue of the company’s future back into the limelight.
The letter, published by BGR, paints a fascinating picture of a company in crisis. One afraid of bringing in new talent, obsessed with using tech specs to market products to end-users who just want simplicity and no good at making life for devs easier. The employee says that RIM’s willingness to bend over backwards to lawyers and mobile networks is causing it to lag miles behind the competition.
The writer says that rather than hating on Apple and Google, RIM should take a long hard look at their products and use its unique position of offering a 360-degree hardware and software package to create something stunning that appeals to all consumers, not just email junkies and BBM-obsessed tweens.
But it’s RIM’s response that truly shows where this company is right now. First doubting the letter’s veracity, the reply details the better parts of RIM’s results, talking up improved international revenue, adding, “…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”.
This is the only reference to the series of points made in the initial note, suggesting RIM is being disingenuous at best about its plans to address the future. But it’s the response’s closing lines that are the most telling, when we’re assured that :“RIM is more committed than ever to serving its loyal customers and partners around the world.”
What about adding new customers? Or creating the QNX-backed superphone that we’re hearing so much about? The people behind BlackBerry, despite this scathing assessment from inside its own walls, appear completely unwilling to realise that the world of smartphones is changing around them.
As has been pointed out on these pages before, RIM is in serious danger of becoming the new Nokia. The reply has something of the last days of Olli Pekka Kallasvuo’s reign at Espoo about it. A blanket refusal to accept that maybe it’s got something wrong and that things need to change. And quickly.
It took the removal of the CEO and the arrival of an outsider to bring some home truths at Nokia The latter’s looking to finally turn things around, but unless RIM’s staff agitate for the same, it can expect its smartphone share to tumble as Apple and Google march relentlessly onwards.