An open letter from a high-level RIM employee addressed to senior management, outlines the major problems faced by the company and urges drastic changes in personnel and strategy in order to regain the confidence.
RIM is currently going through a major transition moving its software from BlackBerry OS to QNX, a move which is taking longer than expected. The result seems to be a company in disarray and one employee has decided to take co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis to task over their failure in a number of areas. The letter, published initially on BGR’s website, focuses on a number of areas in which the unnamed employee believes RIM are failing, including: end-user experience, software, personnel, apps and projects running behind time.
The employee asks: “When was the last time we pushed out a significant new experience or feature that wasn’t already on other platforms?” In a bid to get to grips with these other platforms the employee suggests that RIM needs to encourage key decision makers across the board to use these products as their primary device for a week or so at a time.
The letter also talks about the problem with the software team's leadership within RIM, comparing it unfavourably to those at Microsoft, Apple and Google saying the company needs to hire some high-profile people: “We need some heavy hitters at RIM when it comes to software management.”
Speaking about the devices themselves, the employee believes RIM needs to “cut projects to the bone” and focus on a smaller amount of projects and focus on getting them right. The employee claims that RIM has up to this point shipped incomplete products that were not ready for the end user.
Focusing on developers and the apps available for the BlackBerry devices, the disgruntled employee doesn’t pull any punches: “BlackBerry smartphone apps suck. Even PlayBook, with all its glorious power, looks like a Fisher Price toy with its Adobe AIR/Flash apps.”
RIM initially declined to comment on the letter, questioning its veracity, but later published a response stating that whether or not the letter was real it was “fully aware of and aggressively addressing both the company’s challenges and its opportunities.”
The response points to RIM’s unprecedented growth in the past five years, its good financial position ($3 billion in cash and no debt) and substantial international growth (international revenue grew 67 percent in the first quarter of this year) as indicators of its strong position. It says that following a period of growth it has “become necessary for the company to streamline its operations in order to allow it to grow its business profitably while pursuing newer strategic opportunities."
However despite these assertions, there is no doubt that there are problems at RIM and change is needed. Whether or not either of the co-CEO’s will want to step down as the employee suggests remains to be seen.