An Open Letter to RIM
June 30, 2011 11:02 AM   Subscribe

 
The two bosses may already be listening to the letter, the rumor being that the Playbook has been cancelled. The hp webOS tablet has been getting awful reviews, too. It's a pretty competitive space, right now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:14 AM on June 30, 2011


Yes, everyone is desperate to loosen apple's grip on the ipad market.
posted by mullingitover at 11:16 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not RIM and I feel uncomfortable reading their mail.
posted by Legomancer at 11:17 AM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mike and Jim, please take the time to really absorb and digest the content of this letter because it reflects the feeling across a huge percentage of your employee base.

I read the whole thing, but stopped taking the letter seriously at this sentence. If you want a letter like this to be effective at upper levels, then you have two options: (1) Have it co-signed by many of your fellow employees, or (2) Limit it to specific factual statements about yourself and your job experience, not pronouncements about how the company should be run.

Every cog in the wheel thinks he/she has the pulse of the company and knows how to be its CEO. To this person's credit, there are some specific criticisms and suggestions in the letter, but it would be a lot more persuasive if it focused more on, "Here's one problem I encounter daily," and less on, "Here's what's wrong with the company overall."
posted by cribcage at 11:19 AM on June 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


in once sense, I giggle at RIM getting their come-uppance. Their products and software have been, ahem, rude. Hard to develop for, a pain to integrate, etc. They were the 800 lb gorilla for so long, it's nice to see them get beat, even if it is Apple that's winning.
posted by k5.user at 11:20 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Developers, developers, developers, developers.
posted by davebush at 11:20 AM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am not RIM and I feel uncomfortable reading their mail.

It's an open letter.
posted by kenko at 11:21 AM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I hope RIM can turn itself around. Canada had such a great opportunity to shift to a more sustainable knowledge-based economy with companies like Nortel, and, now, RIM acting as major players supporting a technology ecosystem.

Canada's number 1 export in 2011? Crude oil.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:22 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I doubt that RIM is fixable at this point, their chance to innovate was few years ago before Apple and Google got such strong footholds in the market. It's probably too late now.
posted by octothorpe at 11:23 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


RIM should become a niche market and sell software/screen updated versions of its Blackberry 7250. That's a classic "they don't make 'em like they used to" device that is orders of magnitude more indestructible than most mobile phones on the market now.

Otherwise, Playboook? Torch? Burn in a fire.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:23 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how many of the complaints feel very common to other companies at which I have worked (or have spoken to employees who work at them). Not enough focus on end user experience, poor communication between managers and development teams, etc.

Obviously some of the specifics will change (my company for example does not do cellular, but replace "carriers" with "distributors" and the complaint is almost exactly the same) but the issues are common for sure.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:23 AM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The hp webOS tablet has been getting awful reviews, too.

I don't really have a dog in the fight but this review of the HP touchpad at Wired doesn't read as 'awful' to me.

Anyway. As a Canadian I would really like to see RIM get back in the game, but things are looking pretty grim.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:29 AM on June 30, 2011


everyone is working crazy hours and still far behind

Classic trap. Too many hours worked, tiredness makes for bad decisions, which makes for inefficiency, which means even more hours need to be worked to fix things.

I doubt that RIM is fixable at this point, their chance to innovate was few years ago before Apple and Google got such strong footholds in the market. It's probably too late now.

It's definitely too late to regain their former market share, but maybe they can arrest their slide at niche or boutique market status.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:29 AM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Funny coincidence, just before I popped in to see what was on mefi, I deleted another email from the IT guys with the subject "Blackberry phones not recieving emails issue."
posted by pappy at 11:32 AM on June 30, 2011


It's definitely too late to regain their former market share, but maybe they can arrest their slide at niche or boutique market status.

This is what I hope for, too. Overall I love their smartphones and would hate to see Blackberry die out completely, but their latest releases have sucked hardcore. Some housekeeping is definitely in order here.
posted by Anima Mundi at 11:35 AM on June 30, 2011


> I deleted another email from the IT guys with the subject "Blackberry phones not recieving emails issue."

And Microsoft Exchange 2010 pretty much confers all of the benefits of using a Blackberry Enterprise Server, while allowing for control of email on just about any device, including BlackBerry.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:40 AM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because RIM was the dominant player in the smartphone market for so long I think it's exceedingly difficult for them to embrace rival disruptive technologies. Iphones were disruptive technologies as they seemed to open the smartphone market to the average consumer. Many of the features that business users liked in regards to smartphone functionality weren't the focus for Iphones (and Ipads). Ease of use, stability, aesthetics, etc were the focus for Iphone development and power user functionality and applications were less critical. If the market wanted those apps outside developers would increase those areas of functionality.

The nature of the exclusive contract with AT&T seemed to help out Apple considerably. Because the average consumer could only get the Iphone with one company that seems to have slowed downward price pressure on Iphone models.

Android seems to be the other end of the spectrum, because it's only software it allows each smartphone maker to customize android to best fit their device's particular strengths and weaknesses. Features popular on one smartphone or tablet seem to migrate rapidly to other platforms. This collaborative approach seems like it offers significant development advantages even if it offers a lower return than controlling the platform.

So RIM seems to be stuck in the middle with Microsoft chasing after a market segment that is increasingly dominated by rivals. Unlike Microsoft RIM depends on this market and honestly needs to innovate significantly in order to avoid the slide towards irrelevance.
posted by vuron at 11:40 AM on June 30, 2011


Love my BB. Small, compact, gets E-mails in and out fast. Beats my Outlook in reception time. Works like a charm. The fact that I don't have some program that tells me the song I'm hearing? Not a problem. It is a business device.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:40 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


> The fact that I don't have some program that tells me the song I'm hearing? Not a problem. It is a business device.

See, you're in an extreme minority. Corporate IT departments all over the world are having to deal with users who want iPhones or high-end Android phones. And really, who is IT to say no? If an employee is productive and wants to blend their business email with personal entertainment apps, with productivity software in between, then why not?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:46 AM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is a business device.

But isn't the issue many people are getting personal smartphones that they're tired of having to carry a separate business device, and since the Blackberry isn't innovating (and RIM seems to be making no correct steps to), they do seem a little screwed. Which is why my (fairly large, corporate, technologically conservative) company is moving away from sticking everybody above a certain paygrade enterprise-wide with a Blackberry and towards letting people have their own equipment and working with that.

I'm not on the tech side of that, so not having to deal with the headaches that come along with it, so it's perfect for me. And I doubt we can be alone in moving this direction because, well, like I said, this place isn't exactly on the cutting edge of tech.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:48 AM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Love my BB. Small, compact, gets E-mails in and out fast. Beats my Outlook in reception time. Works like a charm. The fact that I don't have some program that tells me the song I'm hearing? Not a problem. It is a business device.

Most people may not care what their business device does after hours, but they do want their personal phone to have all kinds of fancy features. And while not everyone loves carrying a work phone, those who must, probably don't want to have to carry two devices. And frankly, when what you're dealing with are general-purpose pocket-computers, rather than specialized gadgets that only do a few things, there's really no excuse to say "oh, this is a BUSINESS device, it doesn't do fun." My work laptop is boring and worky most of the time, but it runs Netflix streaming and plays movies and I can install games onto it just fine.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


RIM thought the iPhone was impossible in 2007.
The BlackBerry maker is now known to have held multiple all-hands meetings on January 10 that year, a day after the iPhone was on stage, and to have made outlandish claims about its features. Apple was effectively accused of lying as it was supposedly impossible that a device could have such a large touchscreen but still get a usable lifespan away from a power outlet.

The iPhone "couldn't do what [Apple was] demonstrating without an insanely power hungry processor, it must have terrible battery life," Shacknews poster Kentor heard from his former colleagues of the time. "Imagine their surprise [at RIM] when they disassembled an iPhone for the first time and found that the phone was battery with a tiny logic board strapped to it."
posted by gc at 11:52 AM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thankfully someone there thinks the expensive ad that repeats one bit of Queen's theme to Flash Gordon might be a waste of cash. That thing annoys the shit out of me and I'm fairly sure it would even if it didn't distract me from playing with an iPad. Same trap Apple got Microsoft to fall into: if you start advertising about who you aren't, you've lost. At least act like you think you're cool.
posted by yerfatma at 11:52 AM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd say the majority of people in my IT department (education not corporate) use iPhones just like a majority of the students. iPads aren't quite cheap enough to be ubiquitous in meetings yet but the ability to jot down notes without a laptop screen separating you from the rest of the meeting attendees is a major advantage (and yes many people dislike active laptop use in meetings because it often leads to disengagement). Medium and High end Android phones are in second place and anything else is an edge case.

If I were a betting man I'd say Android based smartphones will pass iPhones in the next couple of years and RIM will be reduced to a niche player or a industry has-been.
posted by vuron at 11:55 AM on June 30, 2011


the culture at RIM does not allow us to speak openly without having to worry about the career-limiting effects

This is true everywhere, not just RIM.

And a better title for the post would have been "RIM-jobbed".
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:56 AM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


The fact that I don't have some program that tells me the song I'm hearing? Not a problem. It is a business device.

That's not how it works. Horselover Phattie and MCMikeNamara's points are good and that's certainly a part of the problem (people want to carry one device, so it better do everything they need), but it's missing the larger point. The reason the BlackBerry doesn't have some program that tells you the song you're hearing is becomes RIM has a sucktastic developer ecosystem, as described in the letter. Those developers aren't just making entertainment apps and games, they make business software that people use to do their jobs. The same APIs that let someone whip up a quick stupid game are the ones that a company can create to view sales data or enter orders from your smartphone.

If a business device simply means a locked down platform that can send and receive emails and use approved word processing applications, it's not much of a problem. If a business device means the tools employees can use to be more creative and productive people, then any company with a future needs to provide them.
posted by zachlipton at 12:00 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


5) Need for serious marketing punch to create end user desire

Clients like this are, at the end of the day, why people hate marketing and marketers.

You don't need "serious marketing punch" to create end user desire. You need a great product to create end user desire. If you don't have something superior to put on the table at the end of the day, everything else is faffle, and you wind up with spittle-flecked 17-year-olds regurgitating Bill Hicks all over you, often for good reason.

I’ve never seen someone buy product B because it has something product A doesn’t have.

That -- that doesn't even -- I can't -- no. Just no.
posted by Shepherd at 12:01 PM on June 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


We have received an open letter to Mike and Jim from a high-level RIM employee (whose identity we have verified), and in an amazingly honest and passionate plea, this letter gives fascinating insights into what RIM must fix, and fast.

Are "open letters" ever anonymous? What's the point?

I read the whole thing, but stopped taking the letter seriously at this sentence.

I stopped taking it seriously at "open letter" - sending this letter to the press seems more like grandstanding that something constructive. If it were leaked, I would respect it more.

It's interesting how many of the complaints feel very common to other companies at which I have worked (or have spoken to employees who work at them). Not enough focus on end user experience, poor communication between managers and development teams, etc.

Exactly. Fairly standard corporate droning.

If I were a betting man I'd say Android based smartphones will pass iPhones in the next couple of years

I might bet they will in July 2011 in the U.S. (For Android phones vs. iPhones, not Android vs. iOS).

But yeah, it doesn't take a wizard to make that prediction.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:02 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


davebush: "Developers, developers, developers, developers."

You, know...In spite of everything, Microsoft products are typically a joy to develop for and around. It's the one fucking thing they do right. Microsoft's documentation is excellent across the board, and almost always improving.

A lot of people ponder why Microsoft are still successful in the enterprise. I don't. They cater to their customers' needs in this department like no other company does (and I don't mean that they wine and dine executives like Oracle is infamous for doing). Apple gets double negative points here for absolutely sucking at this; and I say that as a loyal Mac user. They killed their entire server line overnight without warning anybody. Jesus Christ.

You could always see RIM trying to mimic Microsoft's model, and picking exactly the wrong bits to emulate. Lots of developer documentation was incomplete, existed only in slideshow format, or failed to address the big picture of the current preferred method of developing a Blackberry application. There were UI widgets used throughout the OS and RIM's own applications that could not be embedded in 3rd-party applications, unless you wanted to code them from scratch. Developing for Blackberry OS always had lots of "Seriously? WTF?" moments.

Although it sure was nice of RIM to cater to their user base by developing their products around Microsoft APIs and platforms, it probably wasn't the greatest idea to base their web browser's DOM around that of IE4 and then somehow manage to botch even that. I'm not kidding.

Also, their insistence on remaining a Windows-centric company, but leaning heavily on Java always confused me. I always felt like RIM openly embraced everything that was horrible about Java development.

The only way to make a fullscreen webapp for BB is to compile it using a proprietary and poorly-documented eclipse plugin. For some reason, the webapps use a slightly different implementation of the BB browser than the actual browser itself. They recommend filling in missing functionality in that browser by tacking on bits of Java, essentially defeating the purpose of developing a webapp. Now, they've got OS6 and a completely different paradigm for webapps, leaving developers and/or users of OS5 and below out in the cold (most devices did not get an upgrade to OS6). I don't think that the OS5 browser ever evolved far enough to even support JQuery.

RIM's lack of focus mentioned in the letter is also obviously apparent to any BB developer. You need to test each app you develop on *every* BB device, because each one has a unique set of quirks. Looking at the current blackberry product line makes very little sense --- they've got about 4 different models that are virtually identical. Consolidate, and ensure a common set of compatibility throughout your products. They were even still selling the Tour up until a few weeks ago, which doesn't even ship with the most current OS (and never will). It's a nightmare.

I work for the federal government. Although we're warming up to the idea of iPhones (and probably will eventually warm to Android as well), it's very difficult for us to simply switch platforms, and abandon our base of installed users and applications. "Switch to Apple" or "Switch to Android" is much much much easier said than done.

And, yes. I did spend the better part of 6 months flailing around, attempting to create a working Blackberry application.

This guy's gonna get fired, but he seems to be right on the money.
posted by schmod at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


Back in the nineties I knew some guys who were doing some freelance work for these people and showed me this so called "blackberry".

I took one look at the keyboard and said it would never fly.

I've not got a very good track record on what technology is going to catch on.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've not got a very good track record on what technology is going to catch on.

Or you were right, you just play the long game.
posted by mazola at 12:08 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I’ve never seen someone buy product B because it has something product A doesn’t have.

But ... that's exactly how I picked my Android phone. It was the only cheap one available that had a slide-out keyboard *and* a non-button (devoted touchscreen space) back button.

Aside from uncaring consumers who only think "iPhone!" or "Droid!" ... don't most people purchase their smartphones based on the features and functionality (and carrier/service plan, of course)?

Aren't people subscribing like crazy to Virgin Mobile because it's $25/month? It's not because of those creepy stalker commercials. It's because they have something Product A doesn't: unlimited data with a minimal phone plan for $25/mo. (Though capping/throttling seems possible there?)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:10 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


RIM has a lot of people who underperform but still stay in their roles.

How can they hope to compete when half of their employees are below average?
posted by outlaw of averages at 12:35 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


My contacts at RIM in Waterloo are pretty much "meh, things aren't that bad. We've seen worse."

That being said, every corp needs this sort of slap every now and then. Corps so often depend on neutral language and not rocking the boat, which means that sometimes having a person yell THIS IS A BAD IDEA! is a good thing. Especially when they are paid to have a notion of the bigger picture.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:36 PM on June 30, 2011


I was so excited to get my work supplied blackberry. My first smartphone, and I would be able use it to get email and do other things, some work related and some not (surf, gps, take pictures, etc). Little did I know how completely locked down and useless it would be for just about everything not related to email. Can't email pictures, can't surf the internet at all, gps disabled. If end-users first experiences with your devices are locked-down pieces of crap, that is all they are going to think of your company. Not all of us are programmers/developers. I know what an SDK is, but no one else I work with does (not a tech company). At this point we all carry around our droids/iphones because they do what we need, and the BB gets shuttled around when I don't have my laptop handy.
posted by Big_B at 12:39 PM on June 30, 2011


If I were a betting man I'd say Android based smartphones will pass iPhones in the next couple of years and RIM will be reduced to a niche player or a industry has-been.

Or will have been bought out by someone else (MS? HTC?) solely for the patent portfolio and then immediately shut down before it could bleed any more money.
posted by acb at 12:40 PM on June 30, 2011


It's interesting to note that the underpinnings of both the iPhone and Blackberry were developed in the 90's. Apple's iOS (and OS X) both derive from NeXTStep, and Blackberry OS is based on J2ME (which is technically a newer technology, but drives like an Edsel)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2011


> Or will have been bought out by someone else (MS? HTC?) solely for the patent portfolio and then immediately shut down before it could bleed any more money.

Where are you seeing rumors of that?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2011


But ... that's exactly how I picked my Android phone. It was the only cheap one available that had a slide-out keyboard *and* a non-button (devoted touchscreen space) back button.

The feature he was referring to, though, was flash. Competing in the smartphone market on price or hardware features makes sense. Having your one big advertised feature be Adobe Flash support is a terrible strategy. Even if you are right, the iPad is plenty capable of supporting flash. It doesn't because running flash would eat up battery life and not add much (in their opinion) to the user experience. If the Playbook gained any meaningful marketshare by supporting flash, then the iPad would have it in the next update.
posted by Gary at 12:45 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


RobotVoodooPower: "It's interesting to note that the underpinnings of both the iPhone and Blackberry were developed in the 90's. Apple's iOS (and OS X) both derive from NeXTStep, and Blackberry OS is based on J2ME (which is technically a newer technology, but drives like an Edsel)"

The underpinning os iOS are older than that. It's still based on Darwin/BSD which has its oldest roots in the '70s and the XNU kernel is based on CMU's MACH from the '80s.
posted by octothorpe at 12:51 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


And frankly, when what you're dealing with are general-purpose pocket-computers, rather than specialized gadgets that only do a few things, there's really no excuse to say "oh, this is a BUSINESS device, it doesn't do fun." My work laptop is boring and worky most of the time, but it runs Netflix streaming and plays movies and I can install games onto it just fine.

If you work for a company which has a lot of sensitive consumer information the VERY LAST THING ON EARTH you want to do is enable people to 'do fun' on their work machines. Because 'fun' usually equals 'virus' at no very distant date, and that is a nightmare.

Locked down IT asset control is exactly what happens right AFTER there has been a 'fun' install that ends up propagating across the network and crashing the entire server infrastructure.

tl;dr - People treating work assets like personal machines is why we can't have nice things.
posted by winna at 12:53 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was so disappointed when the Blackberry tablet came out. I was (and still am) hoping for a tablet that is built around getting-stuff-done-business needs, not around delivering multimedia content.

The business-centric tablet will be something that elegantly solves the input problem (the virtual keyboards are a joke if you're trying to take notes at a meeting), and has full integration pf notes with some kind of amazing task list manager type application.

I *still* think handwriting recognition is the way to go for a tablet, though I seem to be the only person who wants that.
posted by jasper411 at 12:57 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


RIM responds to the open letter...that was quick.
posted by Anima Mundi at 12:58 PM on June 30, 2011


The underpinning os iOS are older than that. It's still based on Darwin/BSD which has its oldest roots in the '70s and the XNU kernel is based on CMU's MACH from the '80s.

And beyond that, the whole thing seems to run on electrons, which were discovered centuries ago.
posted by kingbenny at 12:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm behind that, at least. You hold a tablet like you hold a piece of paper. Why would you try to write on it like a laptop?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:59 PM on June 30, 2011


I like Android's approach to supporting flash.

The Adobe Flash Player is available in the market as a browser plugin. Most people (myself included) install it after getting their phone, use it once, exclaim "Holy crap! Flash is completely unusable on a touchscreen!," and promptly uninstall it.

This way, people get to experience firsthand Apple's reasons for not supporting flash, rather than being subjected to their "Uncle Steve knows what's best for you" attitude. It's stupid, but Apple really should have just let Adobe dig their own grave.

Having used Flash on Andriod, I balked when I saw the Blackberry ads touting it as the #1 feature of their product. "THAT'S the feature you want to advertise? Oh jeez, they're screwed."


...and yeah. If an Android handset/tablet vendor can develop a set of solutions around the enterprise (including a drop-in replacement for BES), Blackberry's entire userbase is ripe for the picking. Android is perfectly poised to deliver a business tablet that doesn't suck, if they can find the right people to market it.
posted by schmod at 1:01 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow. I wonder what it must feel like to give that much of a damn about your job.
posted by Decani at 1:02 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


"I was so disappointed when the Blackberry tablet came out. I was (and still am) hoping for a tablet that is built around getting-stuff-done-business needs, not around delivering multimedia content. "

I think the age of focusing on business centric smartphones and tablets has passed. You can simply make so much more money focusing on selling a consumer oriented smartphone or tablet and grab/influence the business market indirectly.

For instance I think the iPad sucks for serious notetaking in classes or meetings but it's a popular enough device that you adapt your business processes to match it's capabilities.


"The business-centric tablet will be something that elegantly solves the input problem (the virtual keyboards are a joke if you're trying to take notes at a meeting), and has full integration pf notes with some kind of amazing task list manager type application."

Personally I would love a tablet that not only allows for good notetaking but allows me to run more powerful business apps. Not every app has a web front end yet and like you said touchscreens suck for taking substantial notes although they do reduce the laptop wall effect.

"I *still* think handwriting recognition is the way to go for a tablet, though I seem to be the only person who wants that."

It just seems to be something really hard to implement well and you end up tying devices to specific users as the device needs to learn your writing to function effective. Combined with the tendency of user to lose the stylus at the drop of a hat and I think the touchscreen is realistically the only way to go anymore.
posted by vuron at 1:08 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This way, people get to experience firsthand Apple's reasons for not supporting flash, rather than being subjected to their "Uncle Steve knows what's best for you" attitude. It's stupid, but Apple really should have just let Adobe dig their own grave.

If they did that, the typical user would blame the typical Flash experience on Apple, not Adobe.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:09 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The letter was weak, pointless, and timid compared the "Burning Platform" memo that Nokia's CEO published.

the culture at RIM does not allow us to speak openly without having to worry about the career-limiting effects

And so this Einstein concludes that it is better for her career to publicly embarrass her company and senior executives? With employees like this, it's no wonder RIM has problems.
posted by three blind mice at 1:09 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think Apple users are smarter than you think, entropicamericana.

jasper411: I was so disappointed when the Blackberry tablet came out. I was (and still am) hoping for a tablet that is built around getting-stuff-done-business needs, not around delivering multimedia content.

It is interesting - especially with the ads marketing it as a multimedia, "fun" tablet rather than a work slate. I suspect the core market for the Playbook (even the _name_ is super fun) is harried corporate IT departments in big companies being beaten down by 500 or so execs of varying ranks demanding to have their work email and documents on iPads. The IT guys, the logic goes, can give them Playbooks, saying "Look! It's a fun tablet that we'll pay for. Now please leave us alone" and concentrate on tying to secure the iPads of the C-suite, who would not be seen dead with a Playbook.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:11 PM on June 30, 2011


I'd like a RIM job.
posted by punkfloyd at 1:14 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


My contacts at RIM in Waterloo are pretty much "meh, things aren't that bad. We've seen worse."

I always assumed that RIM's position in developing markets like Indonesia with poor telecommunications infrastructure and a need for devices that do not require a lot of data transfer (like the Blackberry) are backstopping the company.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:19 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think Apple users are smarter than you think, entropicamericana.

I think nobody ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the public, and that Apple is not a niche, geeky brand anymore. Hell, only half of iPhone owners sync their phones. You and I would look at it as "this shitty software is bogging down my phone," but Joe Q. Public would look at it as "this shitty phone can't even play Angry Birds on spywareladenflashgames.com."

On topic, RIM certainly has their work cut out for them.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:19 PM on June 30, 2011


I think Ironmouth is right about what the RIM devices are like, and typifies the attitude that lies behind it, but I don't think that bodes well for RIM.

A niche position of "The device purchased by corporate IT to hand out to users, which no one would ever buy for themselves" is not so great in the long term, since the pressure in corporate IT is "work with the user's own device of choice to save the expense of buying anything at all for them."

Winna is also right but we all know what the decision usually is when it's "security" on one side of the scales, and "cost" on the other.
posted by tyllwin at 1:20 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


punkfloyd - well then its unfortunate that http://rim.jobs isn't working at the moment.
posted by jeffmik at 1:29 PM on June 30, 2011


> Locked down IT asset control is exactly what happens right AFTER there has been a 'fun' install that ends up propagating across the network and crashing the entire server infrastructure. tl;dr - People treating work assets like personal machines is why we can't have nice thing

I get what you're saying, but that really doesn't apply to the majority of mobile device users. The push email Exchange feature uses https just as if you were using Outlook Web Access in a browser. Granted, that's not as secure as a VPN or a Citrix solution, but it's what tons and tons of companies have as an option for employees to get their corporate email remotely.

What RIM offers corporate IT departments now is the ability to remotely kill/wipe devices as well as asset tracking and monitoring. Exchange 2010 will allow this as well, and on both company and user-owned devices. Say I want to add my Exchange account to my iPhone. With Exchange 2010 I'll also have to put in a PIN provided by my IT department. If I leave the company or am terminated, then they can block me from getting that email account while the rest of the device is fully functional.

Not to shill for Microsoft, but the security and centralized management that RIM provided is now available with other options, and without having to rely on Blackberry-only products.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:38 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think Apple users are smarter than you think, entropicamericana.

I think at this point, particularly when it comes to the iPhone, "Apple users" are not meaningfully distinguishable from a cross-section of the population.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:39 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


This line of the article "Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android" reminds me of Steve Balmer laughing at the iPhone.
posted by Gary at 1:44 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This line of the article "Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android" reminds me of Steve Balmer laughing at the iPhone .

Love the Nortel logo in the background.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:03 PM on June 30, 2011


I developed vertical market apps for the RIM 85x and 95x two-way pagers well over a decade ago back when those devices were absolutely at the top of the wireless game; stunning in their capabilities to interact with the world from anywhere (their era's iPhones, really).

I'd say those devices were basically the pinnacle of RIM. Laser focused on the one thing they did best (BBM) and absolutely exceptional in delivering that thing. Everything since then has diluted that superiority by delivering rehashes of competitor features, or poorly implemented cruft. I basically wrote RIM off (sold my stock, even) when word got out they were trying to base new devices on some kind of Java foolishness.

I could go on for hours, but for me it really does come down to the lack of vision. There's scads of brilliant people at RIM and there have been for years. But they don't have a vision. They are like Wozniak -- engineers. RIM needs a visionary, a Jobs, to go along with the thousands of army of Wozzes. The last vision RIM had was 16 years ago with the original "brick".

If RIM wants to survive, much less leapfrog Apple, it's going to need to think about what needs to be delivered in a decade, not what needs to be delivered next quarter, or knock-off of what its competitors did last year. You can bet Apple is thinking at least a decade ahead.

Ultimately, if they don't put a guy at the head of the company with a comprehensive use-case of "what is the RIM-mediated user experience of 2021" totally fleshed out in his head and the hard-ass attitude and drive to take the company there, then basically RIM is done.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:20 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


RIM responds to the open letter...that was quick.

That was quick, but that response basically consists of "if this is real, it's not very nice and I don't know why someone would be so mean to us. Anyway, we already know all that, so we're not going to respond to anything specific here. We'll just say that we're 'taking it seriously,' which is what companies always say when they fuck up, get called out on it, and have no plans to change their behavior but want everyone to stop whining. Now, let us cherry-pick some numbers that look a lot better than the ones that show that our stock price is down 50% in the last six month, we just cancelled a major new product initiative that we rolled out to much fanfare, we keep announcing increasingly disturbing quarterly results and guidance, and our marketshare is in free-fall. Oh by the way, we have $3 billion in cash and you don't, so bite me. Did I mention that we're working on strategizing strategically? Strategically I say! Yours truly, --RIM"
posted by zachlipton at 2:26 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


It is obviously difficult to address anonymous commentary

Says the unsigned press release.
posted by RogerB at 2:40 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I like Android's approach to supporting flash. The Adobe Flash Player is available in the market as a browser plugin.

On (some of) the Tegra2 devices, Flash seems to work pretty well. Honeycomb can do Flash as load only on request (like using Flashblock with Firefox or Chrome), which is a great compromise. You have it when you want it, but you can ignore it if you don't.
posted by bonehead at 3:08 PM on June 30, 2011


With Exchange 2010 I'll also have to put in a PIN provided by my IT department. If I leave the company or am terminated, then they can block me from getting that email account while the rest of the device is fully functional.

Close, but not quite accurate.

Number one, they can enforce a password policy, which makes you have to pick your own PIN - they do not have to give it to you.

Number two, while they can remotely disable your Exchange account, the would also typically be able to wipe the device entirely... And, having seen 2-3 companies who are now allowing iOS/Android devices on their Exchange servers, one of the things they make you agree too is the possibility that your device will be wiped entirely... ALL accounts, apps and data...

(Which is ok by me, for the mobility provided - all of my data is in various Exchange accounts anyways - just add them back and boom... And now that Apple lets me get my apps back via their "cloud", I don't even need to connect to iTunes to get my previously purchased apps)

I am curious as to how people still consider RIM's custom BES software more secure than 128-bit SSL, but I am not a security or email expert...
posted by jkaczor at 3:19 PM on June 30, 2011


Horselover Phattie: "What RIM offers corporate IT departments now is the ability to remotely kill/wipe devices as well as asset tracking and monitoring. Exchange 2010 will allow this as well, and on both company and user-owned devices. Say I want to add my Exchange account to my iPhone. With Exchange 2010 I'll also have to put in a PIN provided by my IT department. If I leave the company or am terminated, then they can block me from getting that email account while the rest of the device is fully functional. "

How is this different than disabling an IMAP account? Remote wipe? If I own a non-provisionable phone, how the hell does remote wipe work?
posted by pwnguin at 3:23 PM on June 30, 2011


> How is this different than disabling an IMAP account?

Not a whole lot different, and I'm not really touting RIM. But, you can still use the device for making calls or synching to other accounts, and even if the account was disabled whatever mail was stored on the device is usually still accessible.

I've not seen what jkaczor is talking about yet as far as agreeing to let an IT department wipe your entire personal device. Lots of this is still up in the air though.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:26 PM on June 30, 2011


Am I naive? If I can't find a reasonable way to end the sentence "I want to buy product X because...", then I think product X is going to fail. I can find reasonable endings for X where X is Apple or Android, but not Blackberry (or Nokia or HP). It's not that I prefer Apple over Android or vice versa, I can see both sides of that particular game, but that for everything else I can't see any reason to take the third path.

Which is to say, Blackberry (and Nokia, and HP, and...) is screwed.
posted by Devonian at 3:30 PM on June 30, 2011


If I were a betting man I'd say Android based smartphones will pass iPhones in the next couple of years

Save your money!

Android passed iPhone in the US last year in terms of installed base.

Android has been a rocketship of a platform. In the US, Android eclipsed RIM as the top smartphone platform in January of this year. In April, iPhone edged out RIM to move into the #2 spot.

As of April, the US smartphone world is about 36% Android, 26% iPhone, with RIM a smidge under 26%. All three platforms continue to grow in terms of absolute numbers, though it's clear that owing to their multiple-OEM stratgey and aggressive merchandising Android is running away with the game for the moment . . . at least in terms of getting their platform into the hands of consumers.

When you back up and look at the broader "connected devices" space--so include tablets and other mobile internet devices in the analysis--iOS has the lead with a 44% share.

Among the most important things that the open letter nailed was RIM's need to focus on software developers. There is a massive ecosystem battle going on and Apple is currently winning it, with Android coming on strong. What the platform share numbers don't tell you is the "monetization share" and Apple is killing it there. Simply put, developing for iOS is generally more lucrative than developing for any other platform. (There will be exceptions to the rule, but generally not among media companies and the advertisers who are a key part of what's fueling mobile's growth).

RIM has not been able to lure developers in the way that Apple/Google have and this has hurt them. There are only so many dev dollars to go around in any company and those are being prioritized now for iOS and Android (and in many cases doubly so for iOS as publishers seek to build optimized iPad apps). For many/most, RIM (and Windows and WebOS and outside the US Symbian) fall below the line. Case in point: The Facebook app on RIM? Developed by, uh, RIM.
posted by donovan at 3:32 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Can I have the icon in Cornflower Blue?
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:06 PM on June 30, 2011


While Android adoption is flattening out, RIM is slowly getting deeper in trouble.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:19 PM on June 30, 2011


> I'd like a RIM job.

It looks like RIM abandoned the URL some time recently (or the site is temporarily offline for some reason), but http://rim.jobs used to be a thing.
posted by ardgedee at 5:10 PM on June 30, 2011


> You don't need "serious marketing punch" to create end user desire. You need a great product to create end user desire.

I kept hoping the Palm Pre was a contender. Excellent concept and interesting UI, one of the better-designed and built slider phones I've seen. It killed the company and HP carted off the remains at scrap metal prices.

Now I'm hoping HP's tablet will be a contender. Initial reviews for it amount to the same thing said about anything else that isn't an iPad: "It isn't an iPad." Which goes beyond not being an iPad clone; it's a criticism that encompasses details like responsiveness, fit-and-finish of the build, attention to detail in the UI, and so on. But I dunno. The reviews so far have been kinder to it than to the Playbook and most of the Android tablets. So far, WebOS is suffering more from a paucity of public respect and developer attention -- relative to iOS and Android -- than anything else. HP seems to be in this for the long game, so if the first tablet doesn't pan out, here's hoping the next one does.
posted by ardgedee at 5:28 PM on June 30, 2011


That was quick, but that response basically consists of "if this is real, it's not very nice and I don't know why someone would be so mean to us. Anyway, we already know all that, so we're not going to respond to anything specific here. We'll just say that we're 'taking it seriously,' which is what companies always say when they fuck up, get called out on it, and have no plans to change their behavior but want everyone to stop whining."

I like that, but you forgot to add this:

"Oh, and we're totally going to be conducting a witch hunt looking for this guy. The entire Internet will know his name tomorrow and he will be fired, fired, fired. Hope you like your new ideals there, Jerry Maguire!"

I think the age of the anonymous letter magically keeping your ass out of trouble is long gone, sadly. I hope when this dude wrote this, he was secretly packing up his desk to GTFO, rather than be utterly shocked when the inevitable occurs soon.

I admire his ideals, but ideals don't really mean shit, especially in corporateland.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:03 PM on June 30, 2011


a. they have never gotten over the tout, "crackberry."
b. I had to speak on someone's Blackberry the other days and the presence of all those keys was.... disgusting.
c. there will be rumors of a buyout as the stock resumes it's descent, but they will NEVER materialize; they are the Blockbuster of phones.
d. they have "corporate jets" and, even if you're Canadian, that is - currently - very, very bad.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 9:15 PM on June 30, 2011


And while not everyone loves carrying a work phone, those who must, probably don't want to have to carry two devices.

When I had a smartphone given to me by my last IT employer, I carried two phones. I didn't have a personal smartphone, and being able to turn off my work phone was the best feature. If I had to work for another employer who had a smartphone situation, this would still be my preferred option. Keeping work and personal life separate is important, and I need to be able to turn off my work phone and keep my personal phone on ... for my sanity.

I don't plan on working for someone else ever again, but even if I get a phone for my own business, it will be separate from my personal phone. There's no other way to live.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:58 PM on June 30, 2011


Oh, and my smartphone for my last job was a BlackBerry 8330 Curve. Tough little fucker. Thicker than most phones today, and I put an Otterbox case on it with a belt clip. I hated the push mail thing, and the browser was pretty rudimentary though par for the course at the time, but otherwise it was a great device. It still works. It's sitting on my desk, sad and lonely now that nobody needs it anymore except to look up occasional contact info or notes taken and not transferred ...
posted by krinklyfig at 11:08 PM on June 30, 2011


So, regarding remote-wipe... what's to stop someone restoring their phone from an iTunes backup, turning off data services, and then grabbing whatever data out of their email account that they want?
posted by coriolisdave at 12:06 AM on July 1, 2011


coriolisdave: "So, regarding remote-wipe... what's to stop someone restoring their phone from an iTunes backup, turning off data services, and then grabbing whatever data out of their email account that they want?"

I believe the main selling point is that you can give the clueless sales guy a blackberry and when he inevitably loses it, you can wipe it before the thieves realize it's an Oracle / IBM / DoD contractor's phone and the data is more valuable than the phone itself, to the proper people.
posted by pwnguin at 7:33 AM on July 1, 2011


Also, see entropicana above re: most iPhone users not knowing what the hell that sentence means.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:41 AM on July 1, 2011


Remote wipe is absolutely critical if you have anything remotely sensitive on your phone. It has saved a couple of my coworkers' bacon a few times. One got in mild trouble for not reporting a loss quickly enough --- a couple of days.

Our work gets BBs for $70-100. Its not a big deal financially to replace one.
posted by bonehead at 9:26 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah another big selling point with BB is secure email built in. But it's a push server between your regular email server and the device, and that presents its own issues. The enterprise email server replaces the BB server but is too expensive for many small businesses. And today I believe with the right apps you can secure your email on other devices, but with BB it was a feature early on and was a big reason why business used it as smartphone of choice for so long.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:02 AM on July 1, 2011


Why the iphone wins and PROOF that iphone users are not only getting fucked by apple.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 11:23 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why the iphone wins and PROOF that iphone users are not only getting fucked by apple.

Self-reported data. iPhone users could just be liars or delusional.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:58 AM on July 1, 2011


Keeping work and personal life separate is important, and I need to be able to turn off my work phone and keep my personal phone on ... for my sanity.

Exactly.

I have a separate ring for all the work contacts who have my personal cell number, since I'm not important enough to have a work cell phone.

However, just because they have a separate ring tone doesn't stop them from texting or calling me on the weekends because they were thinking of something that in their opinion had to be shared on Saturday night at 11pm. It would be nice to have a separate device so I wouldn't have to weed through that information in what (albeit at this point in America purely theoretically) is my personal time.
posted by winna at 12:57 PM on July 1, 2011


since I'm not important enough to have a work cell phone.

What would they do if you didn't have a cell phone at all?

I'm not above lying to an employer and pretending I don't have a cell phone, if that's what it takes to force them not to use my personal number for work.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:31 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just out of curiosity, which major players would want to buy Blackberry's patent portfolio? Google, HP, HTC?
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:42 PM on July 1, 2011


My company worked on a marketing project with RIM that would have gone into their carrier stores touting their new commitment to being a consumer-focused device.

It died in beta because the person in charge could not make a decision about anything, nor could her boss when we escalated it.

Rimjob indeed.
posted by Mick at 8:00 AM on July 5, 2011


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