Las Vegas losers

I’m saddened to read reports from attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Announcements from Research In Motion are not causing any buzz. While the updated PlayBook will have fully integrated email, calendar and social media feeds, T. Michael Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, wrote in a report yesterday that sales “could continue to struggle versus improving Android and iOS tablet offerings.” As for RIM’s next batch of smartphones, not expected to be available for months, they “will launch into an even more competitive smartphone market” against Android LTE, Windows offerings from Nokia, and a refreshed LTE iPhone 5, said Walkley.

National Bank analyst Kris Thompson is equally pessimistic in a report issued today. “RIM is in deep trouble; we don’t see how the company can compete against all of these fantastic handsets after years of product delays and a declining developer community,” said Thompson.

None of this is going to be cured if all RIM does is strip co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie of their co-Chairman titles. Recent news reports have predicted that Barb Stymiest, a director since 2007, will be appointed non-executive chair. If this is the best the board can come up with after six months of study, that’s slim pickings indeed. Such a move may satisfy corporate governance gurus, but it doesn’t do anything to improve management or shake up the place.

When my book on RIM came out eighteen months ago, the company could do no wrong. Now RIM can do no right. I liked it better the old way and I’m not even a shareholder who has seen value plummet by 75 per cent.

1 Response

  1. Josh Hudson says:

    Hi Rod,

    I’m writing this on my Mac, after searching for your blog on my iPhone, only a few weeks removed from launching my software company’s first iOS app.

    So, one would think I had just finished reading the Steve Jobs Biography.

    But I actually just finished a much better and far more compelling book, about a much more compelling company and it’s Co-CEOs.

    I was born and raised in K-W and left for The Bay Area in the mid-90’s, and after riding the 1.0 roller-coaster, returned and settled in Toronto a few years ago to start a new company. I was pretty much gone during RIM’s rise, and while I of course followed the company as much as I could from San Francisco, I pretty much missed the intimate contact that I otherwise would have experienced had I stayed in K-W.

    Your account of their story, in light of what’s transpired since it was published, has really struck a chord with me, on both a business level and (more significantly) a personal one. Ironically enough, I bought your book as a Christmas gift for my father (a loyal BB user) and I only picked it up after he finished it. I couldn’t put it down.

    As a business owner, my company is imminently facing the tough decision of whether or not we can invest in simultaneously developing both an Android and BB platform for our product. A year ago, this was an easy decision.

    But as a K-W native, who just now really learned about RIM’s history and a little bit about the two guys behind it, I must confess dismissing BB no longer feels like a cold and calculated business decision.

    No matter what the future brings for RIM, you’ve changed my perspective on the company forever. It’s far too easy these days to forget that there’s a story behind every stock price and people behind every product.

    So I suppose I’m thanking you, albeit with a little melancholy.


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