"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.

Ego and "News Logic"

Yours truly at The Loop:

Focus on the user, not the headline. The headline and the praise you so desperately desire will come to you, rather than you to it. The idea should not bend to the will of the press, but grow and evolve based upon the inherent goodness of the initial thought. Pursuing anything else leaves the door open for critical failure and the all-too-common monikers of “unresponsive” and “poorly managed” companies.

(Image via Flickr)

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.

Amazon Considered Buying RIM This Past Summer

Nadia Damouni for Reuters:

Research In Motion Ltd has turned down takeover overtures from Amazon.com Inc and other potential buyers because the BlackBerry maker prefers to fix its problems on its own, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

RIM's board wants co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie to focus on trying to turn around the business through the launch of new phones, better use of assets such as BlackBerry Messaging and restructuring, two sources said. They did not want to be identified as the discussions are private. RIM and Amazon declined to comment.

Amazon hired an investment bank this summer to review a potential merger with RIM, but it did not make a formal offer, said one of the sources. It is not clear whether informal discussions between Amazon and RIM ever led to specific price talk, or who else had approached RIM about a takeover.

As I wrote before, "That's Enough, RIM."

The blame is often placed on Lazaridis and Balsillie for the company's downward spiral, but the board appears equally at fault.

Rumors indicate Amazon is working on a phone for next year, as well as a much improved Kindle Fire. The company has shown its awareness of what it takes to succeed in the industry, and has gained a strong marketshare in an extremely short period. Where RIM has failed disastrously, Amazon has shown its capability.

An offer to buy the company, incorporate its affinity for enterprise software, and its hardware manufacturing clout makes sense. From RIM's perspective, a buyout makes sense.

And yet, here we are, scratching our heads as the RIM board places its faith in its increasingly misguided co-CEOs.