Growing Sour on BlackBerry

The Toronto Star has started delivering a newspaper to us every day.  I suppose that as weekend subscribers they think can entice us to extend our subscription if they can get us ‘hooked’ on the idea of waking up every day to a paper on our doorstep.  But each morning, while I rush to the front porch to retrieve my copy and excitedly slip off the elastic band to reveal the front page news, I seem to be faced with nothing but depressing headlines.

Today, it was with a special degree of exasperation that I read the news that Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have stepped down from their leadership roles at RIM to make way for a new CEO and Independent Chair on their Board of Directors.  It’s not that I’m particularly attached to the company founders.  In fact I agree with the majority of analysts and shareholders, who believe that their best before dates passed some time ago.  My issue is with the choice of replacements.

Last summer, I posted a blog about RIM stating that I felt the company’s problem was primarily one of marketing, and I still believe that this is the case.  Certainly a failure to meet new product launch timelines, a major network service issue this past October and some important feature-misses on the PlayBook haven’t helped matters.  But I can’t help thinking that the major missing link is a passion for the consumer.

So it was with horror that I read this morning the new CEO, Thorsten Heins, ex-Chief Operating Officer, has built his reputation in R&D and customer service.  Mike Lazardis was quoted as saying: “We have been impressed with his operational skills at both RIM and Siemens.”  Sigh.  Heins himself said that he’ll be focusing on instilling discipline in execution in order to make sure that the company meets its timelines.

Is anyone inspired yet?

Well, don’t hold your breath waiting for the new Independent Chair on the Board of Directors to pick up the slack.  Barbara Stymiest’s expertise is in corporate governance.  In this morning’s Toronto Star article, one of her colleagues described her as “always doing her homework, and being smart and ready with insightful questions.”  Forgive me, but given the state of RIM, I think what they need most, are insightful answers.

If there is one ray of light in this dismal picture, it’s that they’ll be recruiting a new chief marketing officer to replace Balsillie.  My fingers are crossed that they will come with some CONSUMER marketing experience.

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