"It's like the Soviet Union. Everybody's Pretending to Work."

Jesse Hicks has produced a phenomenally detailed overview of the rise and fall of RIM for The Verge. Outlining various landmarks, the disastrous PlayBook, and the abdication of the former co-CEOs, Hicks paints a dire picture of the once great company.

Hicks concludes the article by citing a poignant, foreshadowing statement made by Apple's late CEO:

A final analysis comes from the man whose company pulled the rug out from under RIM in 2007. Speaking in late 2010, he said, "They must move beyond their comfort area into the unfamiliar territory in trying to become a software platform company. I think it's going to be a challenge for them to create a competitive platform and to convince developers to create apps for yet a third platform after iOS and Android. With 300,000 apps on Apple's app store RIM has a high mountain ahead of them to climb."

That man, of course, was Steve Jobs.

Definitely worth the read.

RIM Co-CEOs Step Down, Former Co-COO Appointed CEO

Will Connors and Chip Cummins for The Wall Street Journal:

After 20 years together at the helm of Research In Motion Ltd., Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the company's co-chief executives, turned over the top job late Sunday to a little-known insider as part of a board and management shuffle.

Balsillie and Lazaridis will retain senior roles on the company's board and as significant shareholders, thus indicating the duo intend to remain influential over the company's decisions and planning for the foreseeable future.

Thorsten Heins, former co-COO, has been appointed new CEO.

Immediately, Heins has issued a fairly short-sighted vision that RIM is on the right track. At the same time, Heins has also suggested that he'd be open to licensing BlackBerry 10.

This contradiction is an endorsement of a view outlined by Dan Frommer:

Unless Heins is secretly a rare, freakish visionary genius whose creativity has been stifled by his former bosses for all these years — he’s been at RIM since 2007, right when it started to get into trouble — he’s not going to save the company from its decline.

Although it's good to see the RIM acting to correct the widespread discontent with the company's management, I'm not convinced promoting the COO is the right course of action. RIM needs a true shake up, and merely moving the former co-CEOs to the board and promoting the COO is unlikely to truly impact the company in the way the board might hope.

Frommer has it right:

Two things could save RIM now: A sale or a miracle.

RIM Pushing for Samsung Buyout

Jonathan S. Gellar:

Research In Motion is currently weighing every single option it can think of in an effort to reverse a negative trend that is approaching a boiling point for investors. Reports that RIM is currently in talks to license its software to other vendors are accurate according to our trusted sources, though we have been told that RIM is most likely leaning toward an outright sale of one or more divisions, or even the whole company. The front runner, we have been told by a trusted source with knowledge of the situation, is Samsung, which might be interested in RIM for a number of reasons.

You know your company is struggling when an unsubstantiated rumor regarding a buyout prompts a ten percent gain in stock price.

RIM to Take $485 Million Q3 Loss

Vlad Savov:

RIM has just come out with a sobering statement ahead of its December 15th earnings report to tell the world that it'll be "recording a pre-tax provision" of $485 million in relation to unsold inventory of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. In simpler terms, that means the company is wiping nearly half a billion dollars off the value of its inventory, simply because it doesn't believe it can recoup it in sales. RIM reiterates that it has "a high level" of unsold PlayBooks in its warehouses and that it intends to continue an aggressive promotional push to get them out and returning at least some sort of revenue.

Thus confirming all of my issues with the Holiday Playbook push (and with RIM in general). Read the full RIM press release here.

Corporate Responses to Carrier IQ

AT&T:

Mark Siegel, executive director of media relations at AT&T, however, declined to say whether Carrier IQ is present in all AT&T handsets, what notice users have of its presence and whether users have the ability to turn off the software if they choose.

In an emailed statement, Siegel said that AT&T's use of Carrier IQ software is in line with the company's privacy policies. "We're really not going to offer more detail than what's in the statement," he said.

Yes.

Sprint:

Sprint says it collects "enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network," but that it can't look at the contents of messages, photos, or videos using Carrier IQ. Of course, this story broke when a Sprint HTC EVO 3D was shown logging keystrokes and call information, so the question remains if Carrier IQ on Sprint phones can monitor, store, or send that data — we'll ask for a clarification.

Yes.

Verizon:

“Any report that Verizon Wireless uses Carrier IQ is patently false,” Verizon Wireless spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson said in an email. In an email follow-up, spokeswoman Debra Lewis elaborated. “We did recently notify customers about new privacy programs; we were transparent about how customer information will be used and gave clear choices to customers about whether they want to participate in these programs,” she said (the privacy policy is here). “Carrier IQ is not involved in these programs.”

No, but with the caveat that they use equivalent software.

Apple:

We stopped supporting CarrierIQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update. With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so.

Removed post-iOS5 from "most" products. The iPhone 4 is the only iOS5 product with Carrier IQ still installed.

Blackberry:

“RIM is aware of a recent claim by a security researcher that an application called ‘CarrierIQ’ is installed on mobile devices from multiple vendors without the knowledge or consent of the device users,” the company said in a statement. “RIM does not pre-install the CarrierIQ app on BlackBerry smartphones or authorize its carrier partners to install the CarrierIQ app before sales or distribution. RIM also did not develop or commission the development of the CarrierIQ application, and has no involvement in the testing, promotion, or distribution of the app. RIM will continue to investigate reports and speculation related to CarrierIQ.”

Suggest no authorized involvement, but does not address potential for unauthorized installation.

Google:

We do not have an affiliation with CarrierIQ. Android is an open source effort and we do not control how carriers or OEMs customize their devices.

No direct involvement, points blame at the carriers and manufacturers.

HTC:

HTC went one step further, fingering the carriers outright. “Carrier IQ is required on devices by a number of U.S carriers so if consumers or media have any questions about the practices relating to, or data collected by, Carrier IQ we’d advise them to contact their carrier,” the company said, stressing that it is not a customer or partner of Carrier IQ. “HTC is investigating the option to allow consumers to opt-out of data collection by the Carrier IQ application,” it added.

Yes, but points the blame at the carriers.

Nokia:

Nokia is aware of inaccurate reports which state that software from CarrierIQ has been found on Nokia devices. CarrierIQ does not ship products for any Nokia devices, so these reports are wrong.

No.

To summarize, it appears the only carrier to respond so far that does not use Carrier IQ is Verizon, and even then, it appears they have an equivalent. T-Mobile has yet to comment.

For manufacturers, the waters are murky. Although many deny involvement, there are some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) hints of both former and current association. Apple's statement, for instance, speaks to "most" products, but overlooks the iPhone 4, their most popular handset. And RIM's statement opens the door for unauthorized Carrier IQ implementation.

At the end of the day, the blame is being squarely pinned on the carriers (as was suspected).

What remains to be seen is what, exactly, the carriers have been eliciting from their users via Carrier IQ's software.

(Via John Gruber, The Verge, and AllThingsD)