BlackBerry 10 Central to RIM's Steely Determination to Reverse Decline

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-05-03 Print this article Print

NEWS ANALYSIS: CEO Thorsten Heins and other executives say Research In Motion is revising its management, culture and product development practices so that the company has the best prospects for reversing its market slide with BlackBerry 10.

ORLANDO, Fla.€”Mixed in with the drama and hoopla that typically surrounds BlackBerry World, a steely determination was clearly apparent at the heart of Research In Motion.

RIM may have been having parties and the usual giveaways for the faithful at BlackBerry World here, but its purpose was deadly serious: reverse BlackBerry€™s decline in the United States and make the company once again a major player in the world of wireless devices. To accomplish this, CEO Thorsten Heins said that in effect he had to remake the company and get rid of what he called €œconsensus without action.€

Heins and other RIM executives are working hard to ensure that their customers and the financial community comprehend the level of commitment at RIM. And they€™re working hard so their customers know that something big is coming, if only they can wait.

When a company grows as fast as RIM has grown€”adding 20 thousand people in three years€”Heins said it€™s hard to stay focused. €œYou want to cover everything, you lose the efficiency of the organizations,€ he said. €œEverything is an opportunity you want to pursue. There are opportunities that are challenging and are exciting to do.€ But he said that trying to do everything at once ultimately leads to doing less. €œHow well is the organization running? We have a little fat on the hips,€ he said. €œWe need to be a lean, mean hunting machine.€

€œWe€™re looking at the management structure. How deep is it? Who is accountable?€ Heins said that the management complexity meant that a lot of things didn€™t get done, so he revised RIM€™s management structure to be more efficient. He noted that where RIM once had four COOs (of which he was one) the company now has one person in that position. He noted that he is personally recruiting a new superstar head of marketing, and he€™s cleaned up the entrenched bureaucracy in development.

€œThe innovation was there,€ Heins said, €œbut it needed focus and direction. We had a too complex management structure in RIM, but we've changed this, and there are more changes to come.€

Heins also noted that some of the rumors surrounding developments at RIM have been incorrect. He said they€™re not abandoning the consumer market. Nor is RIM turning its back on physical keyboards that have been the RIM hallmark. BlackBerry 10 devices will have physical keyboards for some but not all models. Furthermore, RIM is considering licensing BlackBerry OS 10.

In a private interview, RIM€™s Senior Vice President of Software Product Management Andrew Bocking said the consumer market is very important to RIM, but that it isn€™t the company€™s core business. For this reason, Bocking said, RIM is working with partners to deliver the consumer apps and games that those users want.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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