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RIM announces $518 million loss, 5,000 job cuts, delays BB10 to 2013 (thestar.com)
262 points by dataminer on June 28, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 157 comments

"Excluding some items, the first-quarter loss was 37 cents a share, missing the 7-cent loss predicted by analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sales fell 43 percent to $2.8 billion, trailing an estimate of $3.05 billion"[1]

Shockingly bad numbers, for a company that was expected to produce bad numbers. Exceeding expectations, but not in the direction you'd want :(


edit: more numbers from same article:

"RIM said it shipped 7.8 million BlackBerrys and 260,000 PlayBook tablets in its last fiscal quarter, which ended June 2. Analysts had projected 8.8 million smartphones and 280,000 tablets, according to a survey of 10 analysts. A year earlier, RIM shipped 13.2 million BlackBerrys and 500,000 PlayBooks."

I think the big part for me was BB10 being delayed.

BB10 is QNX, which RIM acquired 2 years ago. They were ready to ship QNX when they were bought, so the 2 year delay is just evidence of RIM's inability to ship on time.

Sad to see what was such a giant misstep so badly and so consistently. :(

> They were ready to ship QNX when they were bought

I've no idea where you're getting that but when they QNX was not ready to ship anything on mobile back then. They've been building the whole ecosystem around the core QNX system.

I wonder if they shouldn't shift gears and become the dashboard computer before somebody else does, QNX is still developing automotive solutions and some look a lot like the BB10 demos we've seen. Deep integration with mobile devices (including iOS and Android), direct PIN messaging to a dashboard computer, providing a flawless mobile broadband solution in partnership with carriers, etc. Can RIM even keep these two mobile device product lines alive long enough, or should they move in while Microsoft hasn't got the UI right (voice maybe but not onscreen) and Google is just getting into it. Ironically, Nokia would be the perfect maps partner.

They shipped QNX on the PlayBook in early 2011, with a Flash-based UI. For BB10 they are moving to a whole new app framework (Cascades).

>They were ready to ship QNX when they were bought

What does that mean? QNX is an RTOS meant for embedded devices. They were already shipping and still shipping QNX for medical devices etc.

I, as well as HN user 'HorizonXP' have commented extensively on RIM, so I suppose I need to give a statement.

I tried and failed to compose a meaningful comment, so, quite simply: I'm switching to Android later this year. Probably a Galaxy SIII.

My current BB is my first smartphone, which I suspect is why I have such a fondness toward it. The fact that Blackberry data plans are dirt cheap and unlimited also didn't hurt.

But features are lacking. For example: If I create a playlist, I cannot change the playlist order. So I was looking forward to BB10 to hopefully achieve something resembling feature parity with iOS and Android. I was checking Crackberry.com twice per day just to hear the latest on BB10. I eagerly digested the reheated leaks of the 2 models and the new BBM interface.

But I can't wait any longer.

Digicel, the dominant carrier in Jamaica, just launched 4G yesterday. Hell, the ad's playing on the radio right now! Prices aren't too shabby (USD17 for a 1GB plan). I can afford it.

It makes sense for me to switch, too. My many domains are all hosted on Google Apps. I use Postbox as my email client because of how well it supports Gmail. Might as well complete the last mile.

Goodbye, RIM. I'll always remember you.

Love, Oz

Interesting to see 'former' enthusiasts react to this news. This type of negative feedback loop demonstrates how animal spirits can impact what might otherwise succeed in a vacuum. It's also a fascinating intersection where search algorithms and financial modeling meet.

Those able to reliably capture the impact of this negative publicity inside of a model will be very wealthy... but I can imagine Google expanding into deeply into investing, should they ever produce satisfactory results.


Somewhat off-topic, but this caught my eye: USD17 for a 1GB plan [in Jamaica]

Verizon now charges USD50 for 1gb[0]. Have any insight as to why there is such a significant disparity? Does Jamaica have (i) more carrier competition, (ii) pricing regulations, (iii) lower spectrum demand relative to geographic area or (iv) are there other factors you're aware of?

[0] http://i.imgur.com/Q2xTv.png

Interesting, indeed. The comments on Crackberry are filled with people who were waiting it out, but have now decided to jump ship, mostly to Android.

Regarding the pricing, I see from the image that your USD50 plan gets you 1GB data plus unlimited talk and text. The USD17 here is only for the data; voice and text are priced separately. My USD40 plan gets me 165 minutes and 165 text messages, with a subsidised rate for anything exceeding that.

Jamaica has 2 mobile carriers, Digicel and LIME (formerly Cable & Wireless). How these two have competed is an absolutely fascinating look at regulation, branding and consumer behaviour .

Until 1962, Jamaica was a British colony. Hence, Cable & Wireless, a British company had a monopoly on telecommunications. Like any good capitalist knows, this led to atrocious service. I grew up in rural Jamaica, and we applied for a landline for years before we got it. C&W just didn't care, and, as Jamaican's are wont to do, we gave them our own name: "Careless & Worthless." (pronounced 'kayliss' [hard k] and 'wutliss' in Jamaican patois.)

In 2000 or 2001, the then People's National Party (PNP) government, under Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell, liberalized the telecoms sector, and granted a cellular license to the Irish-owned Digicel. Digicel launched in April 2001. 100 days later, they had 100,000 customers. Literally 1000 customers per day, in a country of population 2.8 million. (Take that, SociaLocoMobi startups :))

People flocked to Digicel. I mean, it was just amazing. Soon, people with C&W phones were few and far between. Digicel introduced GSM technology (as opposed to C&W's TDMA), per-second billing, Pay As You Go (you buy prepaid cards at retail stores, corner shops and street vendors.) They drove home their advantage with excellent marketing - they branded themselves as 'young' and 'hip' as opposed to the 'old' and 'stodgy' C&W. They sponsored football. They sponsored cricket. They sponsored track and field (They have sponsored Usain Bolt for years). Their coup de grace was the talent competition 'Rising Stars', - American Idol meets Jamaican music. It was, and is, a phenomenal success, and has launched the careers of major artists in Jamaica, such as Christopher Martin and Romain Virgo.

Digicel was, and still is mostly viewed as Jamaica's 'Mobile Messiah'. They 'saved' us from the eternal damnation of C&W.

Digicel was on top, and C&W was forced to respond.

C&W did this by upgrading to GSM in July 2003, and rebranding as 'bmobile'. For weeks, there were flyers in the shape of the power symbol on your laptop everywhere, with the cryptic message "Get ready to be switched on." No one knew what it was, until the public was invited to an event. 'Twas a huge event - airshow with stunts, the whole shebang. It signaled the start of an era where C&W would spend hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing trying, but failing, to regain market dominance. Quite simply, Jamaicans hated C&W. They replaced about 6 CEOs in a few years.

The kicker is that after this new rebranding, C&W provided better value. Calls were cheaper. Data (GPRS) was cheaper. But the public simply did not care. My older sister, for example, could not be paid to switch from Digicel, and many people share that sentiment. C&W, now bmobile, was in decline. But they would not bow out without a fight.

They rebranded as LIME (Landline, Internet, Mobile, Entertainment) in 2008, and introduced 3G. But they still could not compete, and continued to rack up losses.

But something was amiss, which was not widely known until late last year: When the telecom sector had been liberalised, the regulatory body, the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation), had decreed that Digicel be granted favourable interconnect fees, so that C&W could not force them out by charging them exorbitant fees to connect to their network. However, Digicel was allowed to charge C&W very high interconnect fees. This was only supposed to last for a few years at most, but continued until a few weeks ago!

As a result of that disparity in interconnect fees, those with C&W phones found it very expensive to call Digicel subscribers, providing them with even more incentive to switch.

Late last year, the PNP was returned to power, and Phillip Paulwell reinstated as Technology Minister. One of the things he has done recently is to set a standard interconnect rate. LIME capitalized by slashing rates across the board, and Jamaicans rejoiced and are finally paying attention. Digicel responded by taking the OUR to court, arguing that procedure was breached. It is still before the courts, but the act has cast a negative light on Digicel. They responded a few days ago by launching the 'Sweet' plan with massively reduced call rates, but per-minute billing and reduced free offers. So the air is rife with the scent of competition, as both of them are gearing up to do battle, to the benefit of Joe Consumer.

A few days ago, when they launched the 'Sweet' plan in reaction to LIME's rate slash, they took their street team to middle of New Kingston, the business district, and had dozens of people dancing, and handing out flyers. Apparently, LIME got wind of it, and rounded up their own street team to make their presence felt. I'm told that due to the some police presence, they were not able to do so.

Very, very interesting times are head. And I'm loving it.

NB. I'm not a supporter of the PNP; but the facts are the facts - they did a better job than the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) where telecoms are concerned.

Great response, thanks for all of that context.

Sounds like the playing field was evened once the interconnect fees were standardized. It's a shame that we are so far behind in the U.S., at a very fundamental level. Most networks here (particularly the two largest -- AT&T + Verizon) are totally incompatible.

Anyway, thanks again for all that detail, very interesting stuff.

Thanks. I really enjoyed writing it.

One thing in the US that would never fly in Jamaica is being charged for incoming calls. C&W used to do that when they were the monopoly, but Digicel didn't it. If any of them tried it now, there would be riots in the streets.

Most Jamaicans are on PAYG (or prepaid) plans. As a result, we usually pay full price for phones, whereas you guys can get a high-end smartphone for $200 on a 2 year contract.

It turns out that my sister was actually at the launch of The Galaxy S3 last night! She came back ooh-ing and ahh-ing...

I already have a Galaxy Nexus, and I just bought a Nexus 7 tablet for the NFC capabilities, because I couldn't wait any longer for the PlayBook 4G with NFC.

I'll still be developing for BlackBerry 10, and BlackBerry 7 will still be my daily device. But I will be shifting my focus to Android for now, for strategic reasons.

RIM dun goofed if they're losing people like me.

When even you're pissed, I know it's bad.

I thought of getting the Galaxy Nexus due to the stock Android, but my carrier in Jamaica just launched the quad-core S3 for USD 715, so I'm gonna go with that.

What's your PIN? Might as well enjoy it while it lasts...

Do not get any Android phone that is not Nexus. You will regret it in the end.

Listen to this man! He is absolutely bang on. That's my only regret with going Samsung Galaxy instead of Nexus.

You'll only regret it if you have an obsession with upgrading your OS. If you don't really care, any phone running ICS right now will suit you fine.

So the UI responsiveness updates that were implemented in Jelly Bean, I shouldn't care about those kinds of things?

Wanting an updated OS != obsession over OS updates.

If you don't notice the UI being unresponsive on an ICS stock phone, no. (As an aside, the only good phone/tablet I've tried on ICS that has responsiveness issues is the Galaxy Nexus. Anecdotal, but still.)

The company appears to have the financial wherewithal to last for quite a while as it attempts a turn-around.[1] So I expect them to continue trying with the existing business model for at least a few more quarters before they give up and join the Android bandwagon or sell their soul to Microsoft like Nokia.

[1] The latest financial statements at http://press.rim.com/content/dam/rim/press/PDF/Financial/FY2... show that the company ended the quarter with close to $1,467 million in cold hard cash and $780 million in investments, and no debt (page 8). Moreover, all of the reported loss came from non-cash accounting write-offs and accelerated amortization; the company's combined cash and investments actually increased during the quarter, from $2,111 million to $2,247 million (page 9) -- that's right: they ended the quarter with more money than they started!

The market is pricing the company with the expectation that the cash will be gone in the future. It sounds like the cash position may start to decrease in the next quarter.

Their subscriber base also grew from 77 M to 78 M. Their market share dropped, but isn't that because the market grew?

So now we have two companies (Nokia and RIM) in similar circumstances (the Innovators Dilemma). They each saw two paths forward. Each chose their own path. Neither are succeeding.

So were they already doomed by the time they chose to act or did they misunderstand the dilemma they faced?

It was both. After years of tech homogeneity, people were looking for a change. Apple came along and it was young and fresh, fun and had awesome technology to boot.

The incumbents were slow to act. When they did act they failed to recognize that it was a branding problem as well as a technology shortfall. They are toast.

I don't think Apple succeeded because people were looking for a change. They just made a smartphone that was usable for regular people (ie iPod users).

Nokia could have done that too. Maemo was comparable to (or better than?) Android in 2007. If they had really understood what made the iPhone a success, they could have spent a year repositioning Maemo to be competitive with iOS, just like Google did with Android.

Of course, they didn't since they were already heavily invested in Symbian, and that's why they stumbled.

usuable for regular people - that's awesome technology.

Maybe Nokia could have made a technically competitive smartphone in 2008 but they didn't. Why not? They thought they were competing on technology and that they had time. They weren't though. They were in the middle of a market changeover and they didn't see it.

If they came out with a phone that was technically competitive I don't think people would have bought it. They have one today and it's sales are disappointing.

I agree, although think if they had one not long after the iPhone launched, a lot of people would have bought them because of brand loyalty.

If you already had a Nokia your default choice was usually a new Nokia. And they had a pretty strong brand at the time (and 70-80% market share?).

This is true. I can remember waiting for a Nokia android device / a good touchscreen device with an app market before I got my first android. At that point I'd only really owned Nokia's and loved the reliability of them, but they just took far too long to come out with anything that could compete.

How are these guys still in business? It's out of this world.

It's also out of this world how this company can't figure out left from right - they haven't released a single product since the failure that was the "new" Blackberry Bold 9900 - which was a miserable device that crashed 5x a day.

And now they're not releasing anything until 2013. Makes you wonder if they're just buying time in the form of bullshit product roadmaps in the hope of an acquisition.

It should not take this long to release a new device, a new OS or whatever the hell they are doing over there.

It's a shame, BIS and BBM are two great services, but their OS is just such dated trash.

Not really relevant anymore, but I have a 9900 in my hands right now and I think it's the best phone I've ever used. It has never crashed on me. Going on one month always on now. Keyboard is legendary, touch screen is perfect, browser is snappy.

The build of their phones are too inconsistent. I've gone through three different models with peers and some friends report really poor performance and major manufacture defects. Your 9900 may be serving you well but I'm about ready to slam mine against the wall. The fact that it has never crashed on you is miraculous, and don't get me started with that abysmal battery life.

To be honest, even the guy at the store where I bought it told me that they tend to "brick themselves" and that he had to return his. I hope my luck continues.

Definitely agree on the battery life issue. But I don't mind since I'm never far from a USB port.

I've got a Torch 9810 that I use and enjoy. Screen is great and I love the keyboard...does what I need. Though it's lacking in apps it seems to have a few advantages over android phones.

For example images attached to text messages on my wife's Galaxy II open as a slideshow or something and are displayed as a thumbnail, and as far as I can tell that is a common Android issue and there is currently no workaround.

It's too bad RIM hasn't been able to execute better on upgrades.

You got lucky. I went through 3 9900s which all crashed multiple times anda after multiple OS reinstalls.

They lived off inertia from international growth in emergent countries where Android was just getting started and Blackberry was a lot more recognized as a brand. That's how they fooled themselves into thinking that their business and revenues are perfectly fine, and there's nothing threatening them. Complete lack of foresight.

Which is surprising. I mean 2 CEOs should give you twice as much foresight, right?

Wow, the level of delusion is just amazing:

In a conference call with analysts, Heins said getting the new system right was more important than doing it quickly. “I will not deliver a product to the market that is not ready to meet the needs of our customers,” said Heins.

These guys are sitting in the armory of their castle, polishing their weapons, and the barbarians have already stormed over the ramparts, smashed through the walls and set fire to most of the village. But no, it's more important to get those weapons "just right".

Or to look at it another way, if BB10 is in such a parlous state that after all these delays it still cannot be shipped then there are huge, enormous problems with the technical competency inside RIM. And if that is true then we can assume that it will never ship in good shape because time is not actually a solution to such problems.

..and yet if they release too early when it's not ready they have to hear "it just seems like beta software" "it's too unpolished"

RIM needs more coders and less executives. Their products are lacking from basic stuff, just for example:

- no IMAP folders means that I can't get two-way sync without getting every single email, no way to avoid 'bypass inbox' mails, it's that or just one way

- software, and social integration on the PlayBook is really bad and too 'alpha' (hm, can't even send a DM typing the twitter account name) to be used.

And we have unstable software, lacking of the most basic functionality (like… editing bookmarks, storing notes, and with frequent glitches and bugs, disappearing folders…)

You cannot get adoption with such a bad experience, and that's why I understand that BB10 is the way to go. Their hardware is excellent, their software is a few years (and thousands of lines of code) behind of where it should be.

If you cannot attract developers, hire them and make your own ecosystem. In the end, social networks and usual convenience apps (weather, netflix, browser, twitter, facebook, presentations, sync, calendar, contacts) with a good support is all you need to attract a decent user base.

If every time someone tries out my PlayBook they run into a stupid glitch or crash, it's clear that they aren't going to buy one, even if it's cheap and it's a real beauty in terms of hardware and underlying system.

And my dad isn't going to get a new BlackBerry either. They're getting more expensive and he still can't have a decent Gmail integration without stupid 'features' like skipping inbox or two-way sync. There is no flexibility, menus are still too complicated and messy.

It's no wonder that they're making losses. I guess I'm the only one still sticking to BB out there without hating it or being forced to…

I think we should really take a moment to thank RIM for what they've done for the market place. If it weren't for them, where would mobile instant messaging be?

Think down the road to when most of us will be moving on from Google to the next great "thing"

I know when that time comes that I will be forever thankful that I was able to share personal documents with family members overseas using Google Drive.

We should be thanking them for being a part of the cycle that is the modern world of technology; a stepping stone and a changing interface for information exchange.

Life goes on. And thank god for RIM.

Unless they work out a miracle in 2013, RIM's best bet is to get acquired. And actually they could be a good option for Oracle considering they plan to explore new enterprise avenues.

YES! This is what I've been saying for over a year! Two quarters ago, I said that it would run through another eight quarters of bloodletting, and then $ORCL would pick them up -- so only six more quarters to go! Reasons for an $ORCL buy: especially after another year and a half of hemorrhaging, the only customers that $RIMM will have left are those who can't physically move because their dependencies on the platform are inextricable. Like a marine apex predator, $ORCL can sense this kind of blood in the water from an ocean away -- customers that can't move are ripe for the kind of price increase that only an experienced monopolist has the temerity to mete out!

so only six more quarters to go

Given the current trends, taking into account that BB10 has been delayed yet again, and extrapolating that into even more obsolete phones which will sell even worse than they do now, it will be a miracle if RIM is not bankrupt within that timeframe.

Just look at the numbers. They can't afford to keep bleeding like they do now for that long. And they certainly can't afford the increased bleeding the lack of BB10 will cost them.

Six quarters is way too late. If noone has bought RIM within four, there will be no saving them.

(Shrug) If Oracle buys RIM, they will just wind down operations and start launching patent suits in every direction.

Hard to see how that's a win for anyone except Ellison and his army of patent lawyers.

I'd love to hear why someone disagrees with this, especially given Oracle's behavior with Sun's IP.

Yeah, but who would acquire them? I can't see anyone out there with an appetite for RIM. It's a bit too far out of Oracle's comfort zone... maybe you might see someone like Moto or Samsung acquire them for their software and then port things over to Android. If nothing else, it might establish some "business-cred".

Care to speculate on a reasonable acquisition price? What is RIM worth?

Actually this is a really interesting suggestion.

Oracle definitely has the money, patience and will to go against Android and iOS in the enterprise space. And BB does have a Java story which suits Oracle.

The question is whether Oracle needs to get into the mobile space. They could just as easily sell apps for iOS/Android or add better mobile front ends to their eBusiness Suite.

Was actually discussing with someone I know in Oracle - they are exploring more mobile visibility aggressively. And I guess it wouldn't hurt if they own a popular enterprise mobile platform.

"enterprise" no longer exists. that's what is killing RIM, that's why they are trying to woo consumers.

Users rule now, and users are consumers. They don't want to carry two devices, one for home, one for work. The home one being technically advanced.

The cost of the IT fortresses is prohibitive and it is now being understood that IT departments with overzealous IT security policies ruined the actual use cases of technology.

Example: Top15 big pharma co. BB as the corporate standard, fully locked down. PIN lock activates the sec the screen goes dark. PIN is a alphanumeric password. Camera, Browser - pretty much everything is disabled. Windows Notebooks? VPNs, rotating passwords, dongles, e-mail mailboxes of 500mb, no e-mail retention, etc.

IT argues that this makes them "compliant".

Then, suddenly, strangely coincidental with the rise of Apple post 2007 a big shift starts. SaaS solutions are starting to replace on-premise stuff, Big pharco has realized that their IT really sucks in terms of its job. The headcount, cost overhead is in no relation to the pain it causes. Everything is no, everything takes ages, when it arrives it is unusable.

And now we are at bring your own device. Whatever works. iPads everywhere. iOS takes care of security and OS updates. No more we can't update to WinXP SP3 because we're still testing it.

Just had a meeting with another big pharco yesterday, where BB is corporate standard. They are dropping that next month. iPhones are taking over. With far less control.

"Enterprise" for end-users is dead.

Interesting indeed. But BB java is dead and resurrecting it cannot be a good move.


Down 18.07% in afterhours trading as of the time of this comment.

OUCH that's with the price they have making the company so ripe to be brought and broken up appealing that I doubt that it wont happen now :(.

I've not been surprised that they have been on a downward slope, but this just seems to be the financial equivalent to a vertical nose dive.

Its the speed and acceleration of the decline that just seems to boggle; between RIM and Nokia, its hard to fathom how either former juggernaut could implode with almost Shakespearean-scale tragedy.

Delaying BB10 until next year, even though it is to get it working well is another delay too far sadly.

How many more staff can they get rid off?

Nortel part two sadly for RIM. Sad, but realy have to make some epic bad managment mistakes for this level of fail and there making them :(.

So sad, but I hear the fat lady is warmed up already.

> How many more staff can they get rid off?

I'd really suggest starting with upper management this time.

edit: it crushes my soul to know they'll eventually leave what's left of the company they ruined with more money in their pockets than many of their best employees will earn in a lifetime.

I'm Canadian and I honestly believe this is a display of the terrible management that exists in Canada, especially in the tech sector.

Examples: Nortel, Corel

I'm Canadian too. I don't know if it is terrible management or just lack of crazy new ideas. I remember just over a decade ago ... Nortel was doing quite well. I remember being at a meeting when I heard Apple was taking an investment from MSFT. I thought ... wow .. that's it for Apple. They're done for. And look what happened.

I worked in smart phones since the early J2ME phones hit North America. I too completely missed the iPhone. And I'm no suit. You can argue that I lack vision (you'd probably be right) just like the execs running the big telcos. Then again, I think the entire mobile computing establishment missed it. I know people in academia, at Microsoft, at Motorola, at Nokia, etc ... EVERYONE I KNOW MISSED IT! I don't know when people realized that everything had changed. This isn't a statement about just Apple btw. Google was also a new player in this space and look at their market share vs. the established players (circa 2000).

Honestly ... I'm a bit dazed. I can't believe I missed it. I'm sure neither can a lot of people and companies. I get a bit sad sometimes because it feels like it is too late to catch up.

"I don't know if it is terrible management or just lack of crazy new ideas. I remember just over a decade ago ... Nortel was doing quite well. I remember being at a meeting when I heard Apple was taking an investment from MSFT. I thought ... wow .. that's it for Apple. They're done for. And look what happened."

In the early to mid nineties, Apple spent fortunes on 'crazy new ideas'— it nearly bankrupted them. When Steve Jobs came back, he terminated all those projects and discontinued most of the product catalog. No more PDAs, stylus operated netbooks, printers, scanners, digital cameras -- all gone.

So no, trying 'crazy new ideas' won't necessarily save RIM. Replacing all major executives and the board of directors might. That's one of the first things Steve Jobs did when he returned to Apple, and most of those execs are still with Apple now, 15 years later.

> When Steve Jobs came back, he terminated all those projects and discontinued most of the product catalog.

Woah, that was a crazy idea...

Did the iPhone not qualify as a "crazy new idea"? Certainly more so than a PDA or a digital camera?

Steve Jobs came back to Apple as an advisor in 1996, when the company was in trouble. That's the period we were talking about (see "Apple was taking an investment from MSFT").

The iPhone was released 11 years later, when Apple had already become an insanely successful company.

I don't think I could have predicted exactly what would happen before the iPhone, but _after_ the iPhone launched I thought it was pretty evident that _if_ Apple managed to pull it off wrt the carriers (which they did), other cell phone companies would have a lot of catching up to do.

I always thought that Big Telco wouldn't be the ones bringing the innovation. I did expect that 3G would eventually reduce telcos to big data pipes (exactly their nightmare 10 years ago), but of course I couldn't have imagined that it would take so long to happen, and that it happened to fast once it did (how many sends MMS today?)

Very good point. Back in the old days (pre-iphone), I remember the conversation was ... oh no .. the carriers won't go for that. I remember getting slightly nauseated when I heard the amount of money made by the carriers in selling ringtones. Also, cellular data in Canada was ridiculously expensive (probably still is). I remember it taking $10 to download a single page off of CNN.

On J2ME, the early model was ... you had to pay 2K to get your app approved by the carriers. I was giving away some free apps in those days. I remember politely declining the rep I was talking to and thinking FU!!! You want me to pay you to get a free app into your store? The store that has almost no selection? This is before Ads on phones btw. Still ... many people thrived in that ecosystem. Anyone remember sites like Handango? Heh .. those were the days.

So ... the carriers still live. They didn't get what they deserved. The people who catered to the whims of the carriers are the ones who paid for it. There is a lesson in here somewhere.

> So ... the carriers still live. They didn't get what they deserved.

I don't see any way to make carriers "pay" until we have technology that can replace their massive capital investment (partially funded by taxpayers). The barriers to entry are extremely high.

Agreed, I worked at RIM in 2007 and the writing was on the wall even then. I don't know what it is, but it just seems like no Canadian company is able to sustain itself at the next level.

Yeah once they brought the pearl out and the drive towards the pube market I was of the same mentality. Also was only 2006 when somebody asked at a town-hall meeting about QA and iirc it was Mike who for all effect admited they had none.

Then in late 2006 during a backend upgrade they were rolling out they failed on a test, turned out that even before the upgrade they would of failed on that test as it was a outstanding bug and the role out had neglected to run the tests prior to the rollout. So once they rolled out they did the tests went op's and backed it out.

General fragle managment and no love lost from me who also left in 2007. But that was due to a incompetant manager messing up my expenses and leaving me the otherside of the World without a home to come back to as all my rent and council tax standing orders went tits up as I for all effect didn't get paid.

Since then I've been watching them go from epic fail to epic fail and still certain managment who are there are still doing there thing - clearly.

Sad on so many levels but in many ways I'll not stop until my ex boss is homless and that will happen, i'm patient :).

Can you give some more examples?

There's a book on the subject, "Why Mexicans Don't Drink Molson"


Essentially the Canadian business elite always wanted to set up protected markets where they could collect easy rent instead of competing on the world stage.

Which has nothing to do with either Nortel or RIM. That works at many levels of the market, but is irrelevant here.

It's a mindset that may (or may not) be prevelant in Canada, and it looks like a heckuva interesting book, so I see lots of value in his comment.

It's a mindset that is prevalent in all provincial markets (not the geographic type). There is zero that is special about Canada.

I see these same comments each time and it kind of burns me. Nortel went to conquer much of the world. Under that Canadian management. Then they passed their zenith and failed, like countless companies before. RIM conquered much of the world. Under that Canadian management. Then they passed their zenith and failed, like countless companies before.

To see the same boring comments every time that imagines that only the latter part happened -- completely ignoring the events that led to that even being possible -- someone showing the chip on their shoulder (e.g. someone didn't listen to their ideas. Damn Canadian management!)...it's just such garbage analysis. It is so shallow and instantly discardable.

Examples: Nortel, Corel

Both of which conquered their respective markets with their "terrible management". Perhaps you have a chip on your shoulder, but your argument is self-nullifying.

Nortel headed to the shitter, it should be noted, when they recruited management from Motorola.

RIM went into the death spiral because they were committed to keeping BBM as their cash cow long after the world had moved on. They saw themselves as their own competitor, which is how you end up with products like the Playbook missing basic communication functionality.

Anyone who invested in this company post-iPhone 4 and post-"co-CEO" RIM deserved to lose their money.

I invested when they were around $11, thinking the patent, bbm, enterprise management crossplatform, M&A, and residual sales in third world markets would be worth something, and that the market had overreacted.

IMO there's a difference between good companies and good stocks in the public market. A cheap price on an ok company can be a good investment; a high price on a good or great company can be a mediocre investment. Kind of the opposite of startups or other illiquid private investments (which largely have a binary outcome).

I'm starting to think they'll go out at $8-12 though.

>> I'm starting to think they'll go out at $8-12 though.

Why? What would justify a premium over the after-hours $7.70? Wouldn't a savvy acquirer just wait another quarter or two to get a better price? What's the rush?

At the rate they are destroying value, it would seem more likely that they go out for much less than $8.

Usually there is a premium over last trade, and the patents are potentially useful to trolls, etc. now. The main reason for a sale to happen now vs. waiting a year would be if some kind of competitive bidding happened. The big change is that RIM's (worthless) board and senior management are now open to the idea, unlike the previous several years of decline (where it was obvious to everyone, but RIM wouldn't do anything).

Their book value is more than $19. Even the liquid assets minus all liabilities is $6.60. Are you saying that all of their property, patents, and future revenue (decidedly non-zero) are worth less than $1.10?

I haven't researched the stock rigorously, so I don't have a good answer to this. But given their massive losses, they will be drawing down their liquid assets and increasing liabilities. And book value for large companies frequently consists of intangible (i.e. made up) numbers for goodwill, IP, etc., which may prove unrealistic.

Even during the co-CEO period.

BB10 is just turning into the Duke Nukem OS of our time.

It's sad that a company with so much talent can be mismanaged into something as horrible as this, but on the other hand it's hard not to laugh when you read about their continued failures.

We are talking about a company which released a tablet with a OS they called complete, which couldn't check email. They are so completely out of touch with what people want, that there is no way they can make.

Even if the do get BB10 out the door, it will be a disaster. It will be underwhelming. It will be a monument to what bad management can do with product delivery.

I'm with ars technica on this one: RIM is on death watch.


How quickly giants fall. I see an M&A in their future.

I see patent troll.

Sadly, it's the last gasp of fallen tech firms.

I hope a patent chest-burster alien does not come out of rimm, mobile world will lose years with those legal suits.

A question to those at BB: if you're being laid off of leaving, where are you planning to head? There is a growing number of start-ups in Toronto and Montreal, and I wonder if they'd suddenly an influx of available workforce.

As someone that lives a 1/2 hour or so from the Kitchener-Waterloo area I'm thinking it'll have a hard hitting effect on the K-W market, on par with Nortel's implosion in West Ottawa/Kanata. When I moved here I picked the location to be able to hit as many locations as possible for potential employment. With RIM going south, moving closer to Toronto is sounding like the way to go, to say nothing of the rise in competition there will be for Java/C coders

I actually thought RIM would go Windows Phone and it made more sense before Nokia. The enterprise fit would have been nicer maybe for them. Not that I am buying any of it, the old days of enterprise pushing consumer sales I think has flipped with Apple. Consumer usage now influences work more maybe.

There is now little chance of a comeback.

Honestly, none

People said the same thing about Apple and look where they are. However, I think without changing the top 2-3 layers of management they are doomed.

What happened at Apple was—for all intents and purposes—a reverse takeover. In theory, they bought NeXT. In practice, NeXT’s management took over managing Apple and its OS became Apple’s OS.

I’m open to RIM becoming the next Apple. All we need is a company with superior technology and superior management that has been hampered by lack of a strong brand and sales strategy (not to mention certain legal agreements barring them from competing with RIM in its core markets).

Then we have them do a reverse-takeover, booting nearly all of RIM’s management.

Have I forgotten anything? Oh yes, then we need a hit product (like the original Jellybean iMac) that will buy them time to create entirely new markets rather than trying to compete in a business where they have already lost.

Put all that together, and you could have RIM being successful in automotive displays, or televisions, or making movies, or something provided it isn’t telephones.

  > What happened at Apple was—for all intents and
  > purposes—a reverse takeover. In theory, they bought
  > NeXT. In practice, NeXT’s management took over 
  > managing Apple and its OS became Apple’s OS.
Something similar happened with Netscape and Collabra, and it was the deathknell for Netscape. jwz writes:

We had built this really nice entry-level mail reader in Netscape 2.0, and it was a smashing success. Our punishment for that success was that management saw this general-purpose mail reader and said, "since this mail reader is popular with normal people, we must now pimp it out to 'The Enterprise', call it Groupware, and try to compete with Lotus Notes!"

To do this, they bought a company called Collabra who had tried (and, mostly, failed) to do something similar to what we had accomplished. They bought this company and spliced 4 layers of management in above us. Somehow, Collabra managed to completely take control of Netscape: it was like Netscape had gotten acquired instead of the other way around.

Source: http://www.jwz.org/doc/groupware.html

So, too bad RIM couldn't have bought Palm?

RIM is most certainly no Apple.

You could have said the same thing about Apple in the 90s.

There were some dark times during the 1990s for Apple. They fundamentally had a technology stack though. They had vast amounts of technology that made them look like an incredibly valuable target for purchase.

There also had an army of loyal supporters. Supporters longing for their return to greatness. That and they had, in ways, carved out a safe harbor, they didn't have to compete head to head with MS or the clone makers. We're talking about a rare turn around though, that doesn't happen often. Comparing companies to Apple is going to be the new Godwin's law..

RIM is just in a different spot, the game changed and they didn't. They had some good stuff but the rules are just so different, if they made a product that was on par with Android of iPhone, that's simply not enough.

The biggest problem now is they are trying to play catch up, and are skating to where the puck is at. Jelly Bean just came out, iOS 6 is shipping in the fall. By next year they'll be even further behind.

I think there's a very real possibility that they won't manage to ship BB10 at all.

You know for a while it was kinda funny, but now I'm really starting to worry about RIM.

Is like they are trying to commit company-wide suicide, it still has a big chunk of the market, it's not "done for" RIM still has a chance, but it seems its poised to destroy itself.

Are there any examples that firing people when a company does bad improves its chances of turn around ? It seems like a stupid move by RIM to fire 5k people when their product is already delayed.

In the last four years, RIMM's market cap has fallen by an average of $49m per day. AAPL has risen by $261.7m per day over the same period.

I think that about sums it up.

They have their unique clients !! They have their unique users. They need to figure a way to just strengthen what they are already good at !!

5,000 fewer RIM jobs - this is a bad day for the people of Kitchener-Waterloo and around the world

Part of me wants to say that blogs killed RIM.

They did so much to slander a product that was for all intents and purposes doing well at the time.

They made it cool to rag on RIM before ragging on RIM was even a "thing"

My old BB Bold was the best phone I ever owned. I'm currently using an iphone, but that keyboard when used right and well can NEVER be beat.

For all of your rhetoric you are admittedly using an iPhone.

I think people who thought their BB was the best device ever, yet joined the exodus to iPhone or Android killed RIM.

That is- you killed RIM. Not blogs.

Turns out: typing isn't the be all end all of a mobile device for the vast majority of people. (And, besides, it's not at all clear that most people type significantly faster on a hardware keyboard anyway.)

This drama can only be saved if a Steve Jobs character shows up at Waterloo.

Goodnight RIM

I don't understand why they are persisting with this BB10 strategy.

Blackberry's value is not in the core operating system. It is in the business apps, BB messenger, unique keyboard, enterprise features etc. It seems like they would be much better off adopting Android as their base and building proprietary features on top.

It just seems like they are spending all their time just to create a product that can barely compete with the 1st iPhone let alone the 5th.

I think those proprietary, enterprise features are massively overstated. Push email isn't so new now, and iOS and Android are quickly closing the gap on enterprise features, including device management, remote wipe, VPN etc.

Just like Microsoft, BlackBerry has and will continue to have lots of loyal customers. That's not enough to grow a company, though, and having started out in the consumer market, Android and iOS now have a huge advantage in the enterprise since employees are asking to bring their own device to work.

Which is basically why they are dead in the water. They don't have an avenue for growth.

They drank their own kool-aid.

Maybe they have so brainwashed themselves that they actually believe BB10 is poised to take the world. It has some "killer" feature such "customizable download button" or something and it will just blow away the competition.

All the ones that have not drunk the kool-aid have either left or where pushed out for being negative or not being a team player.

To dissect the last part. They have probably been talking internally about how much iOS and Android suck and how they are just temporary fads. That shit becomes part of the corporate common set of beliefs. Anyone in power of making a change knows, if they all of the sudden admit that BB10 is a failure or Android is better, they are perceived as a traitor and not a team player.

I've known exactly one RIM employee. He was fairly high up the food chain. I met him at a party and for some reason I ended up talking to him for an extended period (end of the evening, too much booze). He was racist, sexist, pretentious and convinced of his own ability to understand the world.

This was when iPhones had firmly taken hold of the market and BBs were already yesterday's handset. I talked about that with him and he threw a lot of jargon at me and listed the reasons why RIM would continue to dominate into the future.

That conversation was unpleasant enough that I still think of it whenever I see RIM news pop up. If he was characteristic at all of upper-level execs there then it's absolutely no surprise to me that RIM is circling the toilet bowl.

>Blackberry's value is not in the core operating system.

I don't know. RIM gets high marks from governments around the world for its platform security, and it's the OS that is certified. Version 7.1, for example, was recently certified by the US, UK and New Zealand governments. So I'm not sure that switching OS would be such a good move.

Considering RIM was among the first to open their servers to enforcement agencies the world over, that "security certification" gets quite a sinister double-speak overtone.

At this point, it's probably too late to adopt Android. It'd probably take as long or longer to come out with an Android OS (with all their apps) as it would to just finish BB10 now.

The point of Android OS isn't to save money, it's to win customers. I'm not 100% sure why people prefer Android or iOS to BBX, but I think it's partly just psychological. Whatever the reason is, I think Samsung and Apple are pretty happy with RIM and Nokia using a different (even if arguably superior) OS which don't sell very well.

RIM has over 1B cash, has about 16,500 (soon 11,500) employees. Most of their loss was from writedowns, so their burn rate might not be too bad. They might have time to switch to Android. They can't afford BB10 to flop, but I'm pretty sure it will (even if it's actually a great OS).

If they can loose some heads, and switch to Android, they might generate some confidence which could help them get funding. An Android phone with a competitive advantage (in some niches) over Samsung is something I'd bet on. A phone with a new OS in 2013 is not.

Revolutionary things don't begin with poor management and they sure don't begin after mass layoffs. Besides, they haven't just lost 5,000; maybe they did today but a bunch more will quit voluntarily in the next month (now that this huge red flag has been waved in front of them by management).

The people left over will not be willing to bust their asses to make great products for 2013, even if they're capable of doing so. They will be exercising their skills at printing résumés. What is RIM going to do: give them raises, while they're losing money? More like their Office Space bosses will tell them how greeaaaaaat it would be for them to start coming in on Saturdays. No, RIM has lost whatever chance it had to try something new. The next series of moves will all be drastic and they'll have only golden parachutes in mind.

"I'm not 100% sure why people prefer Android or iOS to BBX, but I think it's partly just psychological."

People prefer software that has existed for several years to software that might never be released. This isn't psychological, it's the same reason cats are a more popular pet than unicorns.

I don't think it's psychological. I think both Android and iOS have better hardware that you can do more with. Beyond just apps - I can actually usefully browse websites on Android or IOS; when I tried on a Blackberry a few years ago, it was absolute torture. Bad web browser that didn't render sites well with a stupid trackball instead of a touch screen. I loved the e-mail, but e-mail was the only thing it did well. Maybe they have improved in the past few years, but they're not getting another chance from me, because meanwhile Android's web browser, driving directions, and Swype have -exceeded- my expectations.

Disclaimer: I worked on the WebKit team at RIM. Starting in BB6 (two years ago) Blackberry shipped with a WebKit browser which was leagues better than the old Java browser. Maybe this is a marketing problem for RIM as in just about every RIM thread on Hacker News someone complains about their old Java browser not knowing that current RIM OS's ship with WebKit.

The web browser. I loved my BB, but ditched it when it became clear to me that they didn't take browsing seriously.

BB6 and later use webkit which is a huge step in the right direction. Judging from the scores on html5test.com, they are taking the browser seriously these days.

Build BB10 as a layer on top of Android. Do not make it too dependent on the OS.

See I don't know about that.

There seems to be this massive appetite right now for stock Android devices because of the pretty woeful update policies of the OEMs.

It just seems like RIM would have a lot of success having a stock Android + the fancy BB10 keyboard. And then gradually drip feeding new BB only apps.

OTOH, the window for that might have closed. If you believe the rumors (and the PDK announcement certainly points in this direction) there's a fleet of stock Android devices coming this fall.

Having used both the Playbook OS and Android, the Playbook is a much nicer OS in my opinion.

That said, they should have released BB10 years ago.

>> ..as their base and building proprietary features on top.

I thought they were essentially doing that with QNX. It should utterly kick ass on a phone if they can manage battery life. As a bonus they control the O/S update cycle + avoid open source licensing issues that may sit poorly with some of their core customers. Just need to put the apps on it. I don't think android would have made things work out any better for them. They failed hardcore in other ways.

Like Nokia until a couple of years ago, they've been very dismissive about the tech press calling out their imminent decline, and about switching to another OS.

Perhaps it will go down in history as a "sunk cost" case study for economy students.

I've said this before, and I'll say this again. RIM's issue isn't engineering ability or know-how. It's the lack of communication, which results in product delays and market failures.

I've documented my own issues with them here: http://www.xitijpatel.com/2012/06/a-desktop-bridge-too-far/

A Blackberry phone's value is BBM so you can communicate with your fellow employees (supposedly anonymously) versus e-mail which seems incredibly formal in comparison and BBM is faster too.

BBM is certainly not a replacement for e-mail but it's an alternative to, well, nothing.

It's not anonymous, I've written SOX/FINRA compliance software for BES/BBM and he who controls the BES server can access the BBM messages.

Good to know, I figured as much just to be on the safe side.

Strike "supposedly".

Disagree. Competitors like WhatsApp with greater cross-platform reach, on top of the repeated worldwide BBM outages in recent years contributed to RIM's woes, to the extent that having a BB now is considered a burden.

WhatsApp has the cross-platform compatibility, but I find it horribly slow and inconsistent compared to BBM.

When I send something with WhatsApp, I know it will probably get there, but I'm not sure when, in what order, or at what relative time - and it takes a while to figure that out. When I send something with BBM, I know that it will either get there instantly or not at all, and I know that right away. For me, the latter is better.

I agree with most of what you said, but they should use Windows 8, not Android. Then all the right business apps will just work.

I think you nailed it. Their market was / is enterprise, which is a place where they certainly could have competed. I wouldn't want to be in the consumer space squeezed between Android and the iPhone, but RIM had a helluva position in enterprise.

I do wonder though, if this isn't simply an inevitable case of software eating unnecessary hardware options. That is, whether RIM's only good option was to become a software-only company that builds enterprise software on top of Android and iOS. It would mean the mass contraction of their scale that way as well.

They don't have to be software-only, the large majority of Android phones aren't made by, or in partnership with, Google. In fact, their hardware division might be the least affected by switching to android. Their core OS people would be the ones taking the biggest hit in terms of job cuts or transfers, and all their apps people would have to start porting over to a new platform.

The Android hardware business is a horrible business for all but a few of the manufacturers.

I don't see what the benefit for them would to compete in the hardware business when they can deliver their software on top of 95% of all smart phones instead.

> The Android hardware business is a horrible business for all but a few of the manufacturers.


In terms of operating revenue, Motorola died in 2007, Sony Ericsson died in 2008. That left Nokia, RIM, HTC, Samsung, and Apple.

Apart from Apple, the only companies to make more money after Android was released were Samsung and HTC, because they were the only viable phone makers who switched to Android. Motorola and Sony Ericsson were already toast - they couldn't compete with HTC and Samsung.

RIM and Nokia are the other two viable handset manufacturers. If they switch to Android, I think they'd make more money.

> I don't see what the benefit for them would to compete in the hardware business when they can deliver their software on top of 95% of all smart phones instead.

"If we can capture just X% of this huge market, we'll make out like bandits!".

>Apart from Apple, the only companies to make more money after Android was released were Samsung and HTC, because they were the only viable phone makers who switched to Android. Motorola and Sony Ericsson were already toast - they couldn't compete with HTC and Samsung.

What? I don't get your logic. What do you mean by viable and why do you consider RIM and Nokia to be viable when they're deep in the red?

If switching to Android didn't work for Motorola, Sony, LG, and even HTC(revenues and profits are crashing hard), why would it work for Nokia or RIM?

Competing in a race to the bottom with minimal customer loyalty(see HTC's lack of repeat sales) is not really viable.

RIM and Nokia were doing well before Android and iOS. LG, Sony, and Motorola were not.

why do you consider RIM and Nokia to be viable when they're deep in the red?

Not the OP, but both RIM & Nokia had excellent sales channels (much better than Motorola, Sony or LG) and Nokia especially had fantastic scale to for their logistics chain. Nokia could build and distribute any phone cheaper than anyone else in the world. In the post Tim Cook world Apple may well have surpassed them there now though.

People loved their hardware, they could have kept a huge chunk of the enterprise market and been one of those few manufacturers. If they had maintained their peak market share, it might have been worth it. At the very least it would have been a much easier change for the company to make than cutting half of their workforce and completely changing their business strategy.

Their market was enterprise. It's now social, and in particular texters. People buy their phones because of the unlimited texting and the keyboard. That is all.

After hours price pegs their market cap at a mere $3.8 billion. Their all time high was $148.13 / share, on June 19th 2008, so almost exactly four years ago they were worth roughly $76 billion (95% destruction of value).

That averages out to losing nearly $50 million in market value every day for the last four years.

Wow those are insane figures.

I'm wondering, why didn't they try more crazy stuff? With the amount of capital they had, I'm just so surprised that they didn't release some super advanced crap that was impractical. Anyone know? Nothing jumped of the wikipedia page for me.

All I remember is their usage of QNX, but they did a terrible job with growing the community.

Is there any evidence that they ever had any "super advanced crap"? They happened to hit the combo of a nice keyboard back when you needed a keyboard and a separate server-side component that integrated with Exchange back when you needed a separate server-side component that integrated with Exchange.

Actually RIM pushed radio and mobile forward. Intel had to innovate on projects just to support RIM's early phones. Not to mention their work in networks with Telco's. They used to make phones that lasted for weeks always on....but I digress.

Because the company is and always has been lacking in any kind of vision or ambition. They have a middle management dominated corporate culture and follow the traditional hardware company pattern of treating their engineers like replaceable pawns. Exactly the wrong kind of configuration to compete in today's high tech culture.

Honestly I won't be sad to see them go, by all my friends' accounts it was a soul-sucking place to work. They had the early lead in the smartphone market and completely squandered it.

I'm just so surprised that they didn't release some super advanced crap that was impractical

Well.. there was the PlayBook...

(Maybe it wasn't super advanced, but it was impractical. No email on a Blackberry product?)

there is email now

All I remember is their usage of QNX, but they did a terrible job with growing the community.

Apple's Rhapsody, acquired and released, not unlike RIM's story, during the company's downward spiral, was by and large a failure too. It eventually became the core of their massive success. It is not necessarily too late for RIM to turn it around.

i like both the playbook and touchpad innovativ designs - the way apps are switched, closed, etc

Probably for roughly the same reason Nokia's old chief was putting down Apple on the cover story of Forbes when it came to who was going to dominate smart phones (November 2007 sounds right?). Like a deer in headlights that has never encountered a car before, and whose instincts were completely unprepared for it.

But wait! They're going to license BB10! I just want to know if it's that they just accept that that will make them look desperate, or if they acknowledge the company perception is so bad that any glimmer of hope is a positive thing for them at this point?

RIM says they're going to launch next year, when the iPhone 5 launches, but I think it's a stalling tactic. They surely don't want BB10 going up against Apple's 5 and still looking inadaquate.

Unless someone buys RIM, it's dead man walking, and they know it.

This is so interesting. We now have:

1. Apple - who makes great hardware and great software winning 2. Google - who doesn't make hardware and gives away OK software winning 3. RIM - who makes good hardware and OK software losing 4. MS - who doesn't make hardware and makes OK software losing

It goes to show that business model both matters and doesn't matter.

Or maybe it goes to show that your good/great/ok assessments across hardware/software categories aren't good predictors of winning/losing.

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