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Open letter to BlackBerry bosses: Senior RIM exec tells all as company crumbles (bgr.com)
228 points by zacharye on June 30, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 132 comments

As someone who did Blackberry development professionally for the better part of a year, the sentiments on developer friendliness really resonate with me. Working alongside iPhone and Android developers, I truly felt like I'd been relegated to working with stone tools.

As a prime example, making a network connection is a black art using their SDK, and every developer ends up rolling their own connection manager to do so. If you join the Blackberry Internet Alliance (~$1,200 a year IIRC), they'll make this easy on you by letting you use BIS (Blackberry Internet Service). This is ridiculously constraining when it comes to creating useful apps.

Another major point of pain is their code signing tool. To produce a build that's deployable to a device, you have to sign the COD file using their remote code signing server. The server was down almost daily leaving me dead in the water during critical testing periods.

Lastly, if you decided to make use of certain API facilities like persistent storage, a device reboot was required after every deployment. Given a five minute reboot time on many devices, this could consume an hour or more each day of my dev time.

I'm not sure what RIM's future plans are, but making things easier on developers would definitely be a step in the right direction if they want to remain viable.

I have been developing for the BlackBerry platform for years and have found it very very good. Some things like the signing server can be annoying at times. There are many great things however. RIM provides all kinds of simulators that make it really easy to test out your apps on all devices. So you don't have to even purchase separate devices for testing like on Android or the iPhone. I only do final sanity tests on physical devices.

Your connection information about 2-3 years out of date. That was the old days. They have a transparent connection factory now which makes opening connections pretty easy. You can even transparently route over WiFi, etc.

I think that in the focus to make the newest, shiniest app many people in the developer community are overlooking a key thing. BlackBerry brings you users with a LOT of software purchasing power. Not just people but whole organizations. That crowd is used to spending big $$$ on software. And if it means waiting a little for the code signing server to come back up or schedule my builds outside of regular office hours, this is a sacrifice that I would gladly make. It pays off, quite literally.

Ah yes, I'm well acquainted with the simulator. Unfortunately, the reboot time was on par with that of a physical device which lead me to the drastic measure of snapshotting a running simulator inside of virtual box since I could boot virtual box in 20% of the time it took to start a fresh simulator.

The simulator is also throttled to a paltry 10k/sec when performing network access (why?!), and the app I was working on was for music streaming which forced me to do most of my testing on physical devices.

Regarding the connection factory, I was aware of it; however, given the market share of older devices, it makes sense to support them. If you're going to do so, you're going to have to roll your own connection code since older devices can't use newer OS versions. I'm not talking about ancient devices either. The Curve 8900 shipped with the 4.6 which doesn't support the connection factory.

In our case, it didn't make sense to have two builds (legacy and modern) since we'd have to support legacy anyway. I suspect this will improve as the older devices disappear by way of attrition, but it made things difficult at the time.

Regarding the people willing to spend money on software, we never applied to get into the marketplace; however, all of RIM's competitors have similar offerings, so I see no advantage here.

The simulator has had the ability to reload an edited and recompiled app without needing to do a full reboot. This feature has been there for about 1.5 years (if you count the beta period).

Good points on the older OS 4.6 devices. Right now we have something like 95% of all app purchases done from OS 5 and OS 6 devices, so going back to OS 4.6 has not been considered worth it for many developers for some time now. I do it just to be nice to my users but I get less than 2% OS 4.6ers coming in.

In general RIM has been really good at pushing users to upgrade their devices so in practice you would see most 8900 buyers come out with OS 5 on their device.

Don't the emulators from Apple and Android let you test on various virtual devices too?

And if it means waiting a little for the code signing server to come back up or schedule my builds outside of regular office hours, this is a sacrifice that I would gladly make

Sure, fair enough, but that's a really bizarre thing to have to sacrifice in the first place. I hate to make assumptions about other's infrastructure, but I'm having a hard time seeing how this could be a problem that persists for months or years.

It honestly hasn't been that much of an issue for me. Sometimes the server is down for a few minutes, an hour max but then things are back up and running quickly.

The signing server is part of RIM's security system. It basically allows RIM to control the quality of applications. For example, in any software that proves malicious will get their developer's key instantly revoked - and the server won't side that developers applicaiton. Malicious apps can be instantly revoked by ALL device simply by putting that developer's certificate on a blacklist and pushing it down to all devices.

To do security like this, you need a chain of certificate signings and a controlling server.

And enterprises love security like that.

>You can even transparently route over WiFi, etc.

Um...that's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the platform; on any OS with a modern network stack (Android, iOS, Windows 3.x...), the stack hides the details of what hardware you're connecting over.

I know, but it has been like that since BlackBerry OS 5 which came out years ago. It is the older devices especially the ones that came out way before the iPhone did that don't have this ability.

When people are faced with that kind of development pain, why don't they write their own platform on top? I mean, it seems like e.g. PhoneGap has done that, so there's no contractual reason not to, right?

It seems like if you wrote the bulk of your app in an interpreted language, you could zip new code updates over to the device as fast as your network lets you.

Building middleware hinges on the notion that your platform has enough spare cycles to execute your middleware.

iPhones can, Androids can... but have you seen the level of performance on a BlackBerry lately? I'm not sure if there's enough power under the hood, or enough performance in the OS, to run an interpreted layer on top.

Man, interpreters date back to the 1950s, if not the 1940s. There's always some stuff that needs to be compiled, and other stuff that doesn't, but the stuff that needs compiling gets smaller and smaller every year.

This exec is completely off the mark as there's actually no hope for RIM in the current game. Current game being the key phrase here. They are going up against Microsoft, Apple and Google the three largest tech companies in the world that are treating mobile at near top strategic priority. This means they're able to leverage their resources from other profitable divisions to aid in the development efforts. For a company like RIM that only has mobile they'll get further and further pushed to the sidelines.

So RIM has one of two choices. They can either do a Nintendo and follow a Blue Ocean Strategy and just completely change the game, and change the market. Or they can do a Sega and go 3rd party - meaning not developing the end to end solution and instead providing hardware and software for one of the other main players.

Based on SEGA and Nintendo's experiences, the Blue Ocean Strategy is preferred - but you better be sure you can pull it off. Changing the wireless game is a big bet... though if you saw the OnLive CEO's talk posted on Engadget yesterday you'll see that there is the potential for some revolution in the wireless game. If RIM were to buy OnLive or exclusively license their new wireless tech, that would be the kind of game changing thing that would not only give them a fighting chance, but take the lead.

To conclude - if RIM tries to fight Google, Apple and MS in classic metrics such as the OS, features, hardware and services - they will lose and die. RIM has to change the rules of the game, and one way is to buy Rearden Company's new wireless technology (if it works as stated).

though if you saw the OnLive CEO's talk posted on Engadget yesterday you'll see that there is the potential for some revolution in the wireless game

For anyone curious, here's the article (includes a video):


Their company is named Rearden? Ayn Rand must be smiling in her grave.

Wait a second, isn't the Sega strategy you're describing the same one that basically saved another empire that was in decline: IBM?

The more I read the comments in this thread saying that RIM should focus on BB's traditional enterprise/bureaucratic professional image, the more I am reminded of IBM. And their names are even similar. It must be fate.

Sega is a bad example because they are (and especially were) a very incompetent company.

I actually think this strategy is a bad one for RIM. You aren't going to beat Apple at its own game (UX/consumer market), you need to change the dynamics of the engagement.

One area that RIM/Blackberry is still king is the enterprise. Apple hasn't even attempted to enter this market, for good reason.

I think a viable - although controversial - strategy would be to simplify the offering and the company into a provider of enterprise communications devices. Beef up BES based on customer feedback, pull all blackberries from consumer shelves (i.e. Joe public can't buy one), focus on owning the market for devices with large organizations that provide phones to their staff as a cost of business. Expand into high security, high risk areas like the military and government (Obama doesn't have an iPhone, does he?).

This would also have the effect making owning a blackberry a sign that you are an "elite member of a large group that can afford them", like it was in the later 90's. Owning a blackberry has no cache anymore, because any 16 year old can go buy a pink curve and look as cool as you do.

This is the exact opposite of what this exec is looking for, but in the end will make for a stronger (although smaller) RIM, I believe.

The strategy suggested by the exec is a recipe for disaster.

Artificially restricting themselves to only corporate and government users would be a terrible move. They would still bear nearly 100% of their current costs, but have access to maybe 10 or 20% of their current market. This is a recipe for disaster. Being "corp and govt only" has no meaningful exclusivity. It's not elite. It's just bureaucratic. No one lusts after overpriced government-contract devices. And certainly very few people want to carry both a corporate and a personal phone. Those who do will probably like the Blackberry less, as it becomes a symbol of inconvenience, and as it's constantly compared to their latest iOS/Android device

History has shown that general-use technology eventually wins over niche technology. How many companies are running Alpha chips these days? SGI workstations? Sparc servers? The niche players lost as the mainstream passed them by. Intel processors ended up crushing the dedicated "corporate" processors, because the mainstream market could support larger R&D efforts and provided a volume that allowed a far superior price/performance ratio. Ditto with nVidia. This is a story that's played out the same way again and again. The niche player loses unless it can deliver (and continue to deliver) significant value beyond what the mainstream players can provide. No one cares if there's an "elite" status to owning a rack of Alpha processors when a rack of Pentium 3 chips can do the same job for a quarter of the price.

Also, Apple and Android are both making significant headway into the corporate environment, as employees tire of carrying two phones or being limited to a Blackberry device. Even in companies where Blackberry is the only "supported" device, they often give employees access to Exchange on their personal devices. If employees use their personal iPhones rather than receive a corp-provided Blackberry, that's a loss for RIM (and arguably a gain for the corporation, as they don't have to pick up the tab for another corp phone).

You're just being pessimistic.

The question is not "What is the future of mobile computing?"

The question is "How does RIM make as much money as possible with their resources?"

RIM can't compete on merit, so their best strategy is to do what they've always done: use aggressive, obnoxious sales strategies to place BlackBerries as the "enterprise" device and the only "respectable and secure" enterprise device.

Many lame executive types are very very concerned with appearing respectable and adult and elite or whatever, and will use inferior products to maintain this image. They are doing it right now with BlackBerries. The standard East Coast enterprise opinion toward iPhones has been that they are "toys" for children and plebs, while BlackBerries are serious work tools for rich and important executives.

BlackBerry cannot compete on fundamentals, but it can compete on image, exclusivity, and keep targeting luddites such as people who refuse to use Apple products because they are "pretty". These people love the ugly, hard to use BlackBerry, because the ugliness and crappiness itself is a statement about their values.

The strategy you're proposing might be rephrased as "trust that our customers will be stupid enough to buy our product." I understand where you're coming from. There are plenty of shallow-thinking execs that fit your stereotype. But relying on that as your core business strategy? That strikes me as very shortsighted. You can't realistically pin all your business's hopes on the assumption that executives will maintain prejudices that harm their companies.

This is what RIM is going to do because thats the type of company they are. Their management style is perfectly suited to sell stuff to shallow people based on an exclusive image. This is something they CAN do. , and while it won't change the world it will get them their Christmas bonuses.

> it will get them their Christmas bonuses.

The question is how many Christmases.

If your only concern is the next few years, that might be a viable option, though abandoning all your consumer products would probably send a clear message that you are sinking, at which point even slow-moving corporations might decide to look elsewhere.

I think over the longer term, focussing exclusively on corporations is a losing bet. At some point, the mainstream options will be so obviously superior that it just won't make any sense to continue to invest heavily in Blackberry devices (unless Blackberry can somehow catch up or pass rapidly). If Blackberry is only appealing to the corporate exec crowd, they're going to have to drastically raise prices to stay in business. I don't think many companies will indefinitely pay double for phones with half the features that 80% of their employees don't want. There's just no value there.

I don't think they should abandon the consumer market. They should just focus on the enterprise. There are lots of wannabes in the consumer market who will pay a premium to get "the #1 executive phone in the world"

RIM has always been a one trick pony run by hustling salesmen fueled with hot air. My plan is the natural continuation of their strength.

So they'll just do exactly what they've been doing? That strategy seems to be failing for them right now.

Making millions of dollars and feeding thousands of families is not failure. Failure would be shutting the doors.

By this definition Sun was succeeding right up to the point that Oracle bought them. In fact they're still succeeding, because they never shut the doors.

I don't think this is a definition of success that RIM's executives, employees, or stockholders are looking for, though.

Then RIM's execs etc need a reality check.

There's nothing wrong with making a good living.

No one's talking about making a good living this year. The question is what happens next year, and the year after, and so on. The people currently working for RIM will not continue to make a good living if RIM continues its downward trajectory.

They would still bear nearly 100% of their current costs, but have access to maybe 10 or 20% of their current market.

What? How do you figure? They'd have a huge drop in operating expenses because they'd be supporting a much narrower field of business lines.

History has shown that general-use technology eventually wins over niche technology.

Maybe if you only look at the history you choose to. I'd venture that 80% of all successful businesses right now are focusing on a niche. It's easier to do one thing well than it is to do everything half ass, and that will always create opportunity. Not everyone can be the default.

Also, Apple and Android are both making significant headway into the corporate environment,

Um, no, they aren't. I'd love this to be so, but it isn't. Apple and Android are focusing on the consumer. You need to consider the fact that at a certain level, the needs of consumers and corporations are divergent. It's extremely difficult to focus on two groups with opposing interests and serve both well. This is essentially my argument.

You seem to be making a case that employees will not carry two devices, while at the same time forgetting that one doesn't cost them anything.... As a person that would love an iPhone but who has a corporate issued blackberry, the fact that I have a free device is more than enough to comfort my lack of app selection and better UX.

> What? How do you figure? They'd have a huge drop in operating expenses because they'd be supporting a much narrower field of business lines.

I'm not sure they'd see a significant drop in operating expenses. Their development expenses in particular wouldn't change, unless they're going to completely give up on actually delivering a competitive product. When your company is built on delivering a device, selling fewer of the devices just means your profit margin goes down. It doesn't actually make the devices cheaper to design, implement, or manufacture.

> Maybe if you only look at the history you choose to. I'd venture that 80% of all successful business is focusing on a niche. It's easier to do one thing well than it is to do everything half ass, and that will always create opportunity.

That's only true if the niche is one that has demands a mainstream product cannot fill. When a mainstream product meets the needs of the niche, the niche evaporates. For example, you see that corporations have niche systems for land-lines, because there is no mainstream demand for complex call systems. No one needs 1000 lines in their home and so Avaya and Cisco don't try to sell PBX systems to the public. On the other hand, there are no niche desktop systems in corporations. They use the same Dell or HP systems as home users. There's no value in a niche product, so the niche product no longer exists.

Smart phones are an example of where the corporate niche is evaporating. There's no requirement for a company to use Blackberry devices. At this point, it's basically just a legacy concern. If an Android phone can do the same job, then what's the value in standardizing on Blackberry, especially if Blackberry becomes a niche -- and therefore more expensive -- option?

> Um, no, they aren't. I'd love this to be so, but it isn't. Apple and Android are focusing on the consumer. You need to consider the fact that at a certain level, the needs of consumers and corporations are divergent. It's extremely difficult to focus on two groups with opposing interests and serve both well. This is essentially my argument.

Except this isn't true. Corporate needs and personal phone needs are very nearly the same. They both need voice service, email, maybe SMS. Corporations might need VPN, but that's built into the "consumer" phones as well.

Please tell me what it is you think corporations need that they can't get from a RIM competitor? And especially please clarify how corporate users and consumers have opposing interests.

> You seem to be making a case that employees will not carry two devices, while at the same time forgetting that one doesn't cost them anything.... As a person that would love an iPhone but who has a corporate issued blackberry, the fact that I have a free device is more than enough to comfort my lack of app selection and better UX.

So what you're saying is that all of your needs are actually met by your Blackberry? Doesn't that mean that your claims about personal vs corporate needs being different/conflicting are incorrect?

But to answer you, no, I didn't forget that. I'm saying that some people choose to pay for an iPhone rather than carry a free Blackberry. This may not be the case for you, but I've seen it at my company. I've also seen people who carry two phones.

Focusing on professional-only also has substantial difficulties. Will employees want to carry 2 phones, or will they want to be able to use their consumer smartphone for business as well? If they had and learned an iPhone or Android device, will they want to learn a new platform for their business phone, or will they prefer to use one like they already know?

I didn't say it would be a cakewalk... I said it's preferable to trying to beat Apple at a game they are champions at.

It's like trying to win a war against the US by building a better air force...

Well, one would hope that these professionals need fancy high-security/advanced enterprise features more than they want to play Angry Birds or snap pictures at the office party. But then recent news would show that "elite VIP types" don't practice a lot of discretion with their phones to begin with.

The target market wants one phone. However, the target market doesn't care about the same things that the iPhone or Android delivers. They may want a game or three, but the emphasis is not the same. People attracted to blackberries are not the type of people that are going to care about having the latest graphics.

Long battery life, a good web experience, and a good enterprise experience is something nobody else is doing. Mind you, RIM could build on android and provide the same thing...

A good web experience?!

I was unclear. I'm talking about combining the three. Blackberry doesn't currently have a good web experience,

> One area that RIM/Blackberry is still king is the enterprise. Apple hasn't even attempted to enter this market, for good reason.

I setup hosted Exchange via RackSpace for my client (a Pharma manufacturer) and their managers/exec-team use iPhone to sync their email, calendar, and contacts. BES has lots of neat features but none of my users need anything beyond the basics that iPhone offers. I don't see any reason to switch from Apple to RIM products.

That's because you're not running the business. BES is not about sync, it's about security, and for an enterprise, it is in a class of its own.

I recognize that not everyone (and virtually no one here on HN I'm sure) sees the things that BES offers as important, or even desirable, but I can tell you that there is a huge market for them.

BES is yet another piece of software to manage if you are a mail administrator, and it is a pretty complex beast at that. You can have just as secure a sync solution with straight iphone/exchange by using Exchange Activesync with a VPN client, and you don't have the overhead of managing a BES install.

I don't think you are understanding my point. Nobody gives a damn what the Mail Administrator thinks. The auditors see "BES" and move to the next item, they see your custom made solution and go "WTF is that? Not in the manual == Security Risk!!!11"

I've performed some of those audits, and that was not my response.

BES is something that IT wants. However, business users (generally) want iPhones and Android phones. Who do you think wins in the end, a cost center or the people who bring in the revenue?

While I agree that trying to challenge Apple is a mistake, the problem with your suggestion is that Apple _already_ has entered the enterprise market.

Big Fortune 500 companies are rolling out iPhones and iPads because enterprise employees want them, and they meet the list of required enterprise features: Exchange support, remote provisioning and app deployment, VPN, remote/incorrect PIN wipe and encrypted storage. That and a rich app ecosystem covers 90% of enterprise usage.

Unless BB offers truly unique, compelling features that employees _want_, you're only going to come off as the sad employee that has to use the crappy clunky phone that you got from work rather than an elite member of tha BB gang.

If they manage to make a great phone that employees want, they might as well sell them as upmarket consumer phones as well. But as you said, I don't think they'll succeed in competing in that space, so I think the ship has sailed.

To make an analogy, Apple could have decided to focus exclusively on shipping Macs for media professionals and education, where they had the biggest user base in 1997. However, had they not come up with products that were unique and compelling in the PC, music player and mobile markets, they would never have had the success they've had. Instead, they might have ended up like SGI.

Why would you want to limit their market?

Enterprise bought into BB in the early days because there really wasn't anything else like it. It made sense, and worked for their employees. Now, however, every phone out there has a decent email system, and they're good phones as well. If you're trying to limit BBs to only enterprise, and saying that they don't need to be great consumer devices, then you'll be asking employees to carry two phones. They won't. Even if BB is better for enterprise, nobody is going to implement it alongside consumer smartphones.

Why would you want to limit their market?

Because right now, trying to be everything to everyone is proving to be a losing strategy.

This whole "nobody's going to carry two phones" argument is clearly being made by people that haven't worked with larger corporations, or the people in them.

You're perfectly right that they won't carry two phones... they'll just carry their free, company supplied blackberries.

I've worked with one large corporation (30K employees). This corporation went from HTC WM6 to HTC Android phones, with an option that employees could buy their own iPhone / iPad and use it on the condition that it is set up by the IT staff with proper security settings. From what I can see they have a lot of iPhones and iPads there. People considering an iPod Touch might think twice if the company allows an iPhone.

I agree that they need to narrow their focus, but I don't see how they can differentiate in the enterprise market in a way that will make them own that market.

RIM losing the smartphone market is not an argument for producing an enterprise-only psuedophone. You need to provide an argument as to why your suggestion is the best course of action, rather than simply saying "it's the most different from what they're doing right now." Making footballs would also be different, but not in a good way. I think your proposal would be disastrous, for the reasons I specified. That doesn't mean I think their current strategy will work.

It's the best course of action because they are clear leaders in the enterprise sector. Fortune 500 companies love blackberries and the BES server. They love the control, they love the security.

They do not want their employees going out to buy their own devices and then conducting business on them. Governments are even more concerned about this. They will willingly pay to offer their employees phones that allow their employees to communicate yet ensure they remain in overall control.

In this situation, Blackberry doesn't need an app world. They don't need touch screens. They don't need safari web browsers.

During my 3-year at RIM, one of the first things I noticed was point #6. Anyone (almost) who had been at RIM for 5 years were likely to be Managers, 7-8 years, Directors, 10+, VPs. This was true regardless of competence. It came as a result of hyper-growth but it was never corrected once things began to slow down. If you started at RIM in mid-late 90s as an Analyst, you would proress to Intermediate 6 months later, then Senior within another 8-12 months. Within 2 years, you were a Supervisor/Team Lead and on and on it went. Very few talented people wanted to live or commute to Waterloo during that time. RIM hired who they could, gave away stock options, made employees wealthy and continued to promote them.As a result, the company is now top-heavy (VPs are almost numberless) primarily with people who had grown up in the system and have little external perspective.

It sounds like companies in trouble is always because of too many managers. Were there any high-profile company failures that were caused by too many engineers, and not enough managers? I don't mean lack of management from managers, I mean literally there weren't enough leaders, administrators, overseers.

To add to this, RIM also takes -forever- to make some decisions. I don't believe I'm able to disclose specifics for legal reasons, but even though RIM was a partner for years, they took months and months to respond to an offer that other mobile companies JUMPED at (for good reason). There is -definitely- something wrong at their senior level, and the majority of BlackBerry users I know are only holding on out of ignorance ("it has business features"), or because of BBM (which will soon change due to Apple's messenger). There has been zero intelligent innovation out of this company for years, and my friend at RIM makes money shorting their stock. The entire culture is out of whack, and I doubt they can restructure this by themselves.

I remember an article here a few days ago, about how Silverlake (I think it was Silverlake) did some crazy restructuring. RIM is dying. Their best hope is for an external firm to step in and overhaul things completely.

First, while I can't speak for all BB users, I have stayed loyal to this brand because I love the devices and the software. I know the flaws, I notice lack of innovation, and I don't even use BBM.

Second, shorting the stock of your own company, are there no legal issues there?

What does that question have to do with his point? I'll answer: nothing.

Common misconception -- illegal insider trading is something most ordinary employees will never even be capable of. The definition is something along the lines of "trading based on material non-public information", which is not "I think this company is going to hell in a handbasket" or even usually "I think this new product is a POS an won't sell worth a damn", but things like earnings results, major contract negotiations, criminal investigations, upcoming lawsuits, mergers and acquisitions, etc.

It _is_ possible that a company might hold its employees to a different standard, but I don't think it would be reasonable to try and bar a grunt-level RIM employee from shorting the stock of a company everyone on the planet already knows is screwed.

As a hockey fan I find what you said really interesting basically because CO-CEO Jim Balsillie took the shotgun approach instead of the slow approach in trying to acquire and move the Phoenix Coyotes so I always assumed that's how he operated at RIM. So until I read what you wrote, I would never have thought Jim and RIM would take forever to make decisions--I always thought they didn't take enough time to think things through. What's very funny is everyone was saying, if only took his time, bought the team, and then slowly petitioned for a relocation he would have gotten it--but his decision making skills cost him his chance.

Good decisions aren't a function of how much time you think about them.

There is no correlation between the time taken for a decision and the quality of the decision. None.

Right. That's why infomercials always say "here's our number, call whenever it's convenient." :)

Clearly there is such a thing as taking too long, but "no correlation" is overstating it. Impulse decisions can be bad.

You are, in fact, wrong. In the case of waiting there is a correlation between the outcome and how long you spent thinking about it (leaving, aka not waiting).

So in this case a good decision to wait would become more likely the longer it took to make.

...an external firm to step in and overhaul things completely.

And do what exactly?

It seems that Nokia is in a similar situation and they're giving up on their in-house software in favor of Microsoft's Windows 7 Phone software. So, in the future, what will the difference be between a Nokia phone and a "knock-off"? Is RIM going to face the same fate?

Platforms that tightly coordinate with carriers were highly successful in the previous mobile cycle (prior to wm 6.1- so anything before 2008 really).

The model has changed, however. Today, it's android & iphone that are driving the industry forward. These are platforms that don't coordinate as tightly with carriers.

Frankly, RIM's problem is that their leadership is stuck in the old model. There was a generation of senior executives in the mobile industry who truly knew better than the nerds: Regardless of your passion for development & openness, it was the carriers who make or break you. RIM's risk now is to replace one extreme attitude with another extreme (too open, too independent) and then completely self-destruct.

IMO, the key to success is not anything listed in this letter. They need to reboot their leadership structure with folks who understand that a good relationship with carriers is critical, but you don't cling to them for survival. Android & iPhone are vulnerable in this space. They're spending too much time giving carriers the finger.

IMO, the only company that really has a shot at relevance is Microsoft: They're still playing nice with carriers & they have an incredibly easy development environment, but they're also exploring territory that hasn't been authorized by the carriers.

In the sense that they're 'failing', they're failing because they're not nurturing the development ecosystem with funding. If Microsoft set aside 50 million dollars or so for investing in INTERESTING mobile application developers, they could solve their appstore app quality problem and really make a move on the industry. Microsoft should take advantage of the fact that the carriers aren't thrilled with Apple or Google. They're really well positioned to strike, if they can just get the app quality problem solved.

... They're really well positioned to strike, if they can just get the app quality problem solved.

How are they well positioned to strike if retailers are actively discouraging customers not to buy Win7 Phones?[1]

What does "app quality problem" mean? Is this the fault of developers? Or the Microsoft's fault for not providing the tools, etc? (Since I'm not a mobile developer, this is the first I've heard of app problems on Win7 Phones.)

1. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20071051-71/site-fights-re...

Well positioned: 1) They have a constrained ecosystem which could insure that the quality experience for apps is better than the current average in android apps

2) I haven't owned a wp7 device for over a year, so I don't know where things are now, but for the months following launch, the apps were a crapshoot & expensive. There were no angry birds, no hipstamatics, etc. Twitter, Facebook & that's about it.

So the quality problem I am referring to is akin to the choice between walking into a flea market (Android), a Nordstrom (iPhone) or a jc penny (windows phone 7).

actually incorrect as far as Android..as carriers are in fact members of OHA..

OHA is functionally irrelevant. Google will not authorize the use of their branding if you go outside of their interests.

I'm speaking from experience. OHA tricks people into thinking the platform is open. Hows your honeycomb, OHA?

Ouch. Imagine you're working at RIM and then try reading that letter. How insulting it must be to be a senior developer at RIM and to read that you're just not good enough.

IMHO, RIM's leadership is focused on the past, and on the wrong market segment. They're desperately trying to win over business users, while not realizing that they've already lost that market and will never get it back. At the same time they're largely ignoring the feature phone segment which is going to upgrade to a smartphone in the coming years, and who could be easily lured in by the current BB products, if they just make them a little bit more user-friendly.

My wife thinks her BB curve is a better phone than my samsung galaxy s2. On paper, that's a ridiculous comparison (the curve isn't even 3g). In reality, she only uses it for calling, texting, e-mail and facebook, and it's not inferior at all for those things. She doesn't want a touchscreen, she doesn't want tons of apps, and there are a lot of people like her.

> In reality, she only uses it for calling, texting, e-mail and facebook, and it's not inferior at all for those things.

I was in the market for a decent phone for my own business purposes a few months ago.

I don't use (and don't want a UI to be cluttered by) MyTwitBook+.

I do want phone calls and messaging. I do want some basic PIM tools. I do want some basic web browsing and useful apps. And I want them to be easy to use, efficient, and safe.

For me personally, that means things like a physical keyboard, good sync'ing with other devices and software I work with, and robust security features on the phone. (I tried the leading smartphones at the time, and just didn't get on with touchscreens for typing significant amounts of text.)

Does this sound like any particular company's traditional target market? Of course it does.

Then I went to the store, and checked out the BlackBerry Torch. And I found that its screen was half the resolution of everyone else's model of that generation. I found that its e-mail integration wasn't nearly as straightforward as it could be. I found that it didn't have a well-established browser that could put up modern web sites at an acceptable speed.

Best of all, I found that the store wanted to charge me several hundred pounds to get a Torch on a 24-month lock-in plan. In the UK, I could at the time have picked up a top-of-the-range phone from pretty much anyone else for free on a 24-month plan, or I could have bought those top-of-the-range devices unlocked to use on any carrier's monthly plan for not much more than the money the Torch was going to cost me with the lock-in.

In short, I should have been RIM's perfect customer. I wound up buying a £20 Nokia non-smartphone on a 1-month plan, which still gets me the separate number/phone for business use that I really wanted, and I just use a laptop or similar for the other stuff. As my younger friends might say, epic fail.

The sheer magnitude of their mistake is staggering. Instead of digging in to the enterprise email market when Microsoft was asleep at the wheel, with Exchange Server going nowhere, with Google still trying to pitch their Apps product as Enterprise-Ready, they were busy making pink Blackberry phones for teenage girls.

How can you lose when the President of the United States loves your product? You get complacent. You get distracted.

RIM had an opportunity to take out Exchange Server, to kick SharePoint's ass, to supplant the truly awful Lotus Notes with something even marginally better, so long as it worked well on the Blackberry phones that everyone had.

With Nortel as much as dead, they could've even made big gains into enterprise phone systems, IP telephony, and who knows what other off-shoots once you conquer that.

They could've provided VPN solutions with the Blackberry serving as a key, something the banks would've bought the instant somebody made it. Instead everyone has to use these awful RSA tokens, and they never really worked as the recent breach proved.

RIM could've become the go-to company for IT email and groupware, but instead they chased after consumer market share. They chased after text-messaging teenage girls and got blown out of the market when Android could offer a cheaper product with more features. They're lucky that Microsoft sabotaged Danger for them or they'd actually have competition.

So damned sad.

I think one issue to note is that Apple and Google have basically won the "universal app ecosystems." They have more apps than anyone else, that can do anything. So to go for a strategy that focuses on the casual consumer market and doing core features really well would basically be running for third place: they'd be fighting against Windows Phone and webOS, not to mention the remnants of Meego.

Though, perhaps, that is a more winnable fight.

my sister has a blackberry, and while she's not the touchscreen-and-tons-of-apps type, she was definitely annoyed that voip integration came built into my phone, and she couldn't get it on hers. (i think there are some apps now, but a few years ago it just wasn't doable). there's always the danger of missing out on that one killer app that everyone suddenly decides is a smartphone sine qua non.

> there are a lot of people like her

But not enough to sustain RIM as a viable player, which is the core of their problem.

And the profit margin will be a lot smaller on "dumb phones".

Solutions seem impractical. Hire proven world class managers? Recruit better developers? You can't do these things when already in a floundering position, because why would the best people in the world want to move to come work for the loser? It's key little details like this that make or break a plan; if step 1 is disregard reality, it's just dreaming and whining, not real constructive feedback.

I'm not sure how bad is BB user-interface. Case and point: in Indonesia, BB is probably the hottest phone on the market. These people aren't the same like those in Silicon Valley echo chamber.

Point #2, #3, #6 are roughly focusing on the same principals: RIM needs smart, innovative leaders that get things done and deliver with less processes/bureaucracies. A friend of mine worked there and he said his group (including the director) complained about the internal process with respect to shipping out software: they can't just ship software, there are a few hoops they have to go through and that takes toll on their time to be productive.

Point #5 is valid. RIM insider told me that they have tons of features way before Apple or MS. Unfortunately they don't have Steve Jobs that always depict everything like the next best thing since the slice of bread.

Sometime the media and the analysts are just that: media and analysts. They need stories. They need something to focus on whether it's bad or good. To them, there's no difference between bad publicity and good publicity.

For example: I subscribe to InformationWeek and eWeek. They always sing the same song in the enterprise (for quite sometime until I get bored and thinking to unsubscribe): "Your CEO wants to use iPhone or iPad but your CIO blocked them with tons of reasons and instead ask you to stick with BlackBerry". I've got to ask iWeek and eWeek to do an unbiased poll or survey: how many companies do actually want this? Or are these companies that tell you the stories are the minorities? At the end of the day: which one is more cost-effective in terms of enterprise-wide deployment.

As someone who interned twice at RIM during their peak (Van Halen concert peak), I got the feeling my second time around that their best people had already left after making millions off of their stock options. Some of them to start up their own projects. I'd like to see it turn around, it was a great environment when I was there, I was able to get the bulk of my experience at RIM. Sort of feels like your old elementary school is closing down :(

A lot of good points are brought up here. But the writer is calling for an overhaul of the entire company culture, focus, and business priority. I'd like to see a resonse from a similarly positioned employee to get a feel for how difficult or damaging some of the suggestions may be.

The devices are great for the price you pay, but there should be a much better selection of apps and features among the product line. I was holding the torch the other day and its practically my dream phone right now, even compared to the iPhone because I know I won't need a new one every 6 months. I love having a keyboard instead of touching a screen, i love being able to tether it, I love not having to worry about using a RIM computer to properly develop for or update my device///

I also use the Blackberry SDK, specifically the Widget SDK, I love being able to use simple HTML/CSS/and Java Script to develop apps. The code signing tool can take a long walk off a short cliff though, and there are tons of bugs with even using simple black backgrounds in applications... The SDK does need to be fixed. A company with RIM's resources should dedicate lots of resources into empowering their developers, and also policing the apps in the app store more to make sure that apps don't link to shady web sites.

The devices also need 3D engines in them, Phones should have rich multimedia and game apps. The copy of Angry Birds you can play in HTML5 should work in BB browsers and more of these popular games should be solicited on the BB (phone) platform.

I realize security is an issue as well, I actually like the idea of the playbook, but phone makers have been losing sight of hand held phones over tablets. People are following Apple's lead instead of innovating where they fall short. Make your system more open, use better components like cameras, and make your screens larger and clearer. The 9800 model should be retired, the screen is too tiny.

FYI and despite what the URL indicates, the Widgets SDK is now called "BlackBerry WebWorks": http://docs.blackberry.com/en/developers/deliverables/30182/.... Same name for Playbook and phones.

The Blackberry is a pure communication device. Actually, it is only about communicating. Teenage girls use it, but also my professors. Lately, the technological gap between all the android generics and iphones is increasing, but easily resolvable. Increase the processor speed, the screen resolution and use a better camera. Also they should make the OS smoother.

People do not care as long as they do not have the feeling they are missing something.

Make the BB easy for developers that popular apps are also available for the BB, but this will not gain you any new customers, it will only avoid that you are loosing customers.

Blackberry should focus on the productivity of their customers. I want a phone dead simple but 100% perfect for communicating, 100% secure and 100% trust-able. Blackberry should offer cloud services so that people are locked-in. I use my Blackberry as I used my Nokia, most people do that.

They should leverage their BBM into a social network. They should upgrade their java, so that android developers can easily develop for BB as well. They should create an opportunity whereby carriers can earn more money, carriers are loosing ground everywhere. They do not earn money on the whole internet thing on phones nowadays. Create great utilities, some usable office software. Offer a cloud service in which you can store every message and any file you ever had on your phone. Comparable with my gmail account. So that i ve a BB archive. Focus on privacy. There's a huge chance there will be a backslash on privacy in the next 5 years. I do not trust android or iphone phones. With the first a feel too much attached too google with the second I'm Apple's prisoner. Focus on openness. I would like to connect my BB to any system available. I want to install every program I want to use. Make it a great calculation device. Do you remember the HP 12c calculator. I should have the same kind of feeling with my BB somehow. Not by replicating the calculators functions, but by somehow making it a swiss knive.

OK, nice letter, but. Why would RIM spend a boatload of money investing in QNX going forward? They already wasted enough buying it.

Why not bite the bullet and adopt Android across the board? Instant developer network, Google support, huge non-North American user base, etc, etc.?

I'd buy a BlackBerry and a Playbook running Android tomorrow if they existed.

That's like telling Microsoft to bite the bullet and use Android.

These are big companies with tons at stake. They don't want to outsource their core competencies to competing companies.

One solution is to create virtualization on top of the current solution: call it Android Player or Flash Player or something. You'll get the developers and the apps for your platform and slowly guide these developers to use your native SDK and eventually kill the portability layers.

After all things said and done, there are many ways to go to Rome but one thing for sure: can't sacrifice your core competencies otherwise you'll be like any other mobile manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, etc) and compete on price for hardware because the software makes you irrelevant.

And you know US/Canada won't win when it comes to price of hardware. Broadcom is getting a lot of heat from Taiwanese/Chinese manufacturers.

I'd heard that RIM was in the process of building an Android Player for the Playbook. I highly doubt though that it will result in the guidance of developers toward the native SDK. Those developers are Android developers, NOT Android Player for BB developers, so why would they even look at the native SDK? The only reason I can see is if their App suddenly sky rockets in popularity on the BB. I see that being a rare corner case rather than the norm.

Android player…yes, one of the CEOs, during an interview said something like: You want apps? We're making an Android player thing… That'll give the Playbook "app tonnage," if that's your thing.

The "app tonnage" comment was the dumbest thing I had heard in a long time — breathtakingly dumb. It betrayed a profound apathy towards apps beyond the most crude quantitative perspective.

Ouch. That is dumb.

What happens when your core competency becomes your "core liability"?

And how realistic is virtualization on a mobile device?

Seemingly, Apple and Google have created a large barrier to entry by making compelling mobile environments (aside from the nuances of each). If your developing for both of those platforms, then why would you develop for another?

RIM's core competencies are sales and litigation.

> Why not bite the bullet and adopt Android across the board?

s/Android/WebOS. I'd like to see more than two OS players in the market, and at least one with a sane dev model.

While others argue that'd work against RIM's core competency, I don't think that is the case, especially in light of point #2. From what I gather, RIM has strengths in their business partnerships, and decent hardware. UX isn't one of them (point #1).

So outsource the OS to one of the companies that has bucket loads of cash to spend on UX and developer relations, pair it with RIM's own strengths, and reap the benefits of both.

RIM is essentially in the same boat as Nokia, but without a CEO that has the balls to make changes where needed.

Wouldn't changing OS be switching horses in midstream? RIM just got QNX less than a year ago.

The idea of RIM partnering up with HP is very, very intriguing. It would be basically a Hail Mary strategy for both companies (definitely more for RIM than for HP at this point). Apotheker has said that HP is looking to license webOS with other companies right now. A RIM-HP alliance would be both reinvigorating for both and show that the only way to take on iOS/Android is for former giants to team up together. Or at least make the race against Windows Phone more interesting.

To all RIM naysayers: use a Blackberry and be delighted. Yes the web experience kinda sucks, but other than that Blackberries are all around fine phones with months of uptime without a single malfunction. I still wait to see that from any other vendor.

You just pitched the BlackBerry line of phones by saying that the web experience sucks but it has good uptime.

Consumers generally give a damn about one of those two things, and it's not the uptime. If anything, your comment is some excellent commentary on why RIM is failing.

I appreciate that uptime is important to you, but RIM will certainly fail if they are still targeting users with your requirements. It is the reason why you don't see a focus on uptime from other vendors; it is effectively meaningless in 2011.

If your phone takes five fucking minutes to reboot, you'll start to care about the fucking uptime, too!

Is uptime really the measure of a great mobile device? I've had some apps crash on my iPhone, but it's a minor annoyance to wait for a reboot. Also, I don't recall native Apple apps ever crashing.

I doubt anything that RIM can do will outweigh the painfully outdated licensing and proprietary server technology that is their platform. They had plenty of time to evolve, but they didn't. It's hard to imagine how they can catch up again now that most people would trade a good browser in their pocket for anything RIM has to offer instead.

While I enjoy uptime measured in years as much as the next Unix user, but I think the value of one month phone uptime (a rough estimate of mean time between iPhone reboots) vs. six month phone uptime is pretty meaningless to most people. They're both "pretty much never."

I'm not sure how long an iPhone takes to start up again, but the ironic thing with Blackberries is that if they do reboot for some reason, it can take an absolute age before they're fully awake again. Well, muultiple minutes, which sure feels like an age.

iPhone 3GS and 4 are pretty quick to boot. My Nexus One is noticeably slower, and I don't know how they stack up against any BB devices.

The Nexus One is considerably faster to boot than a Blackberry (I've had both). If you're connected to a BES the boot time is even worse.

Where does this 'mean time between iPhone reboots' come from? Has someone done a study - and are you talking about stock or jailbroken?

I ask because I occasionally had to reboot my original iPhone, and 3GS, but I simply haven't thought about rebooting my iPhone 4 running IOS4.

He calls it a rough estimate right in his post, but even if it's much longer than one month, the point still stands that it's "pretty much never". That metric means nothing at this point.

But yeah, I'm with you that I rarely think about rebooting my iPhone 4.

I pulled this rate out of my buttocks based on a very conservative estimate of the iPhone 4's behavior since I've gotten it. I'd be surprised if I'd actually restarted it more than twice a month; I was trying to give the commenter I was replying to the benefit of a doubt.

Agreed - I think I might have rebooted my iPhone 4 once or twice in the year I've owned it.

Month of uptime? Every time you delete/install an App you have to reboot the device, which is painfully slow and takes almost 5 minutes. When I'm developing for BlackBerry, my workflow is basically:

1. Change some lines of codes

2. Deploy to device

3. Wait 5 min.

4. See if it worked

5. goto 1

My average uptime is about 2mins. doing that.

I'm Blackberry-clueless (other than watching over colleagues' shoulders). Is that really true — you have to reboot every time you delete or install an app? If so, that's astonishing.

Some apps.

Which phone do you have or specifically is there something about the web experience that "kinda sucks"? Starting with the Torch last summer the Blackberry's one by one have stopped shipping with the home grown java browser and switched to WebKit which has been tons better. While the browser can be better it is far better than what RIM has had in the past.

Disclaimer: I'm on the WebKit team at RIM.

One of the reasons I ditched my Torch was I would often get "java.lang.NullPointerExceptions" dialogs when I received SMS's. Pretty bad from a user experience standpoint.

Also lots of other quirkiness in the OS drove me batty.

BTW, the RIM webkit browser implementation is excellent, just the horsepower of the phone letting things down. And I miss the physical keyboard!


Ah ok,the 8520 came out in August 5th, 2009 and ships with the Java browser which did have some shortcomings. If you get a chance to checkout one of the newer Blackberry's or the Playbook you should find a much better browser experience.

I'm completely with you, in that I've been a loyal Blackberry fan for years, currently on a 9700, and absolutely can't imagine using anything else. (And yes, browsing on it really is awful.)

The problem is that there are three types of people:

1.) They want the lowest common denominator in tech, the easiest and simplest option, the Nokia 3310.

2.) Features, features, features. This letter makes the point that no-one ever choses option A over option B because of an extra feature, and while there is some truth to that... that is with regard to iPad vs. PlayBook, or iPhone vs. Android. Anyone I've ever known chose an iPhone over a Blackberry has used reasons such as "better web browsing", "a music player that doesn't suck", "wider range of better apps" and so on. And those are hardly subjective, in my opinion anyway. Phonecalls, SMS, BBM, Email, you can't beat a blackberry, pretty much anything else you want to do, even simple things like watching a video or using as an MP3 player, it just sucks at. There are some blackberry apps that are great, for example (in my case) UberSocial for Twitter, and the MLB At Bat app, but those are few and far between.

3.) The third type of people are people like me who know exactly what we want, to the extent that we don't mind missing out on the features we could have with a different phone, but don't want simple either. We're pretty rare.

The problem is that the first type of person, the features of a blackberry are perfect for them, but using it? It confuses the hell out of my father, who took to an iPhone immediately (and found an Android phone just as easy). If you're not simpler and less confusing, or offering an even comparable range of features, and costing the same, then there's very few people who will chose you - at this point, sexiness of the product is hardly even relevant, that only comes into play if both products would fulfil roughly the same role.

As a Blackberry owner for years (on 9700) and a recent iPod Touch owner I ask you this because being a RIM user/developer is extremely frustrating to me. Why do I have to wait 5 minutes waiting for a reboot every time I install or delete or even just update an app? Why is web browsing so slow and painful? Why did my BBM contact list cut by 1/3? Why, at the end of the day, do I have to restart my phone and wait 5 minutes because it's simply out of memory? Why am I spammed with 3rd party apps like My Space that I can't delete and thus must hide? Why are developer tools so shitty that developers hate working on it and thus I am stuck with outdated and buggy 3rd party apps? I stick with Blackberry for BBM, form factor, and notification system. That's it. Everything else, I carry my iTouch and tether data to it so I can enjoy a user friendly time.

There's been discussion of the uptime claim and its relevance to users; however, I know the it to be completely untrue. Users having to restart their blackberry in order to restore messaging, for example, is not at all uncommon.

As others have pointed out, I think this claim of uptime is totally exaggerated. Manually making changes to per-application security settings often requires a reboot, while if the same application requests changes programmatically, there's no reboot. Installing or uninstalling apps (from the App World) also often requires a reboot.

Maybe for some devices deployed in a corporate IT setting (where these changes aren't allowed at all without an admin) the devices are stable, but for a regular consumer user, I don't think they would see very high uptime. (I also agree that they would largely not care about high uptime, however being constantly asked to reboot the phone is annoying, ie I think users probably start caring about uptime only when it's LOW)

It was delightful before 2007. Times have changed, since, though. The rest of the world grew, RIM didn't.

So in summary:

    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
    5) Need for serious marketing punch to create end user desire
    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.
What happens if they do all of these things? They basically turn RIM into Palm circa 2009-2010. My take, it's over.

Except they have a lot of money in the bank, and better distribution.

Palm might have worked out better if they'd had those things too.

So they might as well merge with HP or some other giant!

Blackberry does not have the same end user as the iPhone. Blackberry's end users are corporations - its the default device that is shelled out to every single employee of large banks and consultancies. The 'Enterprise End User' thats what BB has to retain and capitalize on. RIM should look for synergies with other enterprise application providers. A cool looking twitter application is not the answer to their woes. Its seamless integration of a enterprise Yammer with the BB mailbox or an application that makes it easier to navigate ugly sharepoint sites.

The author talks a lot about their developer centric culture and what needs to change within it. What he totally misses on, especially when comparing to Apple, is that there is a serious lack of design centric culture. Yes he says they should focus on the customer and user experience but I don't think he fully understands that an almost cult-like passion for design is why Apple wins in this area.

I do not see RIM suddenly gaining in this area and being known as the place really good designers go.

If it is real, the letter is an impressive piece of soul searching at RIM. It bodes well for the company that within its ranks, a senior person is willing to put these thoughts to paper in the hopes of steering a change. How much follow-up will happen is anybody's guess. The whole Co-CEO deal is pretty strange to begin with...kinda defeats the "buck stops here" position of the Chief. Imagine two US presidents trying to run the country...

If it's real, it doesn't bode well that they think the only way to try to steer the company is by anonymously airing the dirty laundry on a tech rumor blog. Can't get much more dysfunctional than that.

The letter reminds me of larger companies I've worked for, where it felt clear to us in the lower levels some of what needed to be done, that moral was sliding, and that plenty of people with ideas and talents were not being utilized. Its really hard to build a corporate culture that has really good feedback and involvement among the staff. My bosses in those companies would have found it equally difficult to really let all of these sentiments out, so I don't think its particularly unusual to feel the only recourse is anonymous airing on a tech blog.

Unfortunately I still remember being in the exact same position in days long past.. I had hoped that there could be a senior person who would come out and say this exact fact. There was none and soon after, said BigCo went under and laid-off everybody.

Personally, I'd allow it to be done non-anonymously together with allowing direct response to them.

I can say that the letter has truth in it. According to previous employees of RIM, both co-op and full-times, it's more businessman than techies. RIM really imposes ownership over their employees' ideas as well. I walk by the RIM buildings everyday on the way to school/work. Sometimes I take a look at the faces of people walking to their own RIM jobs. I can really see the lack of passion for their work.

This isn't a real senior person. This is some idiot with a senior title who doesn't have a clue about business. He sounds like an ancient engineer who got slowly promoted and wishes he worked for Apple.

It would have boded well for RIM if it had come before they were in the middle of layoffs and shareholder revolts, when they had growing profits to invest.

"How long do you give him?...About a week!" (Jerry Maguire)

except for still having such naive execs around, the situation sounds typical for an, astronomically speaking, burn-out, starting to collapse, company, a glowing star of yesterday. Who've been at Sun, Siebel, Compaq, Palm, etc... know the feeling. The situation at Nokia, btw, sounds the same...

"Canadians are too nice"

Come on, as if the practice of holding on to people isn't widespread. It's called "office culture".

People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it (it's cliche but it's true).

It's sad when you can't be candid in a company and have to resort to sending an external letter to get through to management.

I think lack of candour when problems abound is the kiss of death for many companies.

Eddie Murphy said it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpPdgrr5diM

All that and no mention of iMessage...

RIM == Yahoo!

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