Chris Kranky

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What next from RIM?

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

I originally didn’t why I needed a Blackberry. It looked like some gimmicky badge for would be Venture Capitalist to tout around. It wasn’t until a friend explained to me how much time it saved him on business trips. Rather than sitting in the rental car bus looking as Kansas rolled by, he would read his emails so he didn’t have to spend hours at night at some hotel room desk rummaging through them. What a great timer saver. I got the concept and immediately purchased my first Blackberry. A convert.

Now the great RIM sits in shambles, the two founders sent packing to ice fish their remaining days out and a very youthful German, Thorsten Heins, whose main contribution to the technology world was working at Siemens is moved upstairs. Siemens? When was the last time Siemens did anything innovative? Ooops .. never.

So what will become of RIM? But with nearly $2 billion in cash on hand and declining revenues of $20 billion, whatever it is, it’s gonna take a very long time to happen.

I don’t predict a happy ending here. RIM owned the market for what we know today as a “smart phone”. But they saw themselves as a email phone and obviously missed the memo that phones would become tiny computer. They continued to pander to IT departments, who I would predict will be dinosaurs in the next wave of technology, and missed or rather refused to see the shift to consumer devices. The massive Playbook was laughable from the first story.

But mainly RIM was full of themselves, middle of nowhere Canada, a holier than thou attitude, every discussion involved an attorney, a simple NDA gave way to a 23 page document. Ugh.

Yes, we all know that the odds of turning this around, making RIM a significant company, a valued and esteemed member in the world of technology seems quite far fetched. They’ll continue to fire people, fire off some flare products in the hopes of saving themselves, invest in new wacko business ideas which evolved from a committee decision with plenty of PowerPoints. Thorsten will bring in new management, Steve Job’s wannabes, complete with turtle neck sweaters, flowery words and loud speeches. Yes, we all know this but we can’t help but watch this seen unfold.

I still have all of my Blackberries, somewhere in a drawer, a testament to an earlier time, a time of innovation and clarity. It’s exciting now though, for in the ashes of RIM, new growth will emerge, perhaps a cubicle engineer, fired in the waved of shut downs, is busy now in his Waterloo basement conceiving, concocting, connecting with his idea which RIM had passed over long ago. I’m watching for that.