RIM announced yesterday that their Co-CEOs: Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis were being “named” and shall “remain” in different positions in the company and Thorsten Heins would take over the role as CEO: this time just the ONE CEO…
Since demotion is the less aggressive way to sack people, let’s just call this move exactly what it is: RIM have sacked their CEOs and we have to ask: is anyone surprised by this? Both have performed somewhat badly in interviews, presentations and leadership for what was once the leading smartphone manufacturer in the world, and have lead it into a decline that seems unlikely they can recover from.
They dismissed the iPhone: a device that has truly changed the smartphone industry. Some of their short-sighted comments include:
Jim Balsillie in February 2007: “It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers … But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it.”
Mike Lazaridis in November 2007: “Try typing a web key on a touchscreen on an Apple iPhone, that’s a real challenge. You cannot see what you type”
Mike Lazaridis in 2008: “…the amount of marketing and the attention (Apple) generated in the market–the customers are now coming to the store and saying I didn’t know you could do all that with a phone. And when they get there they realize there’s a selection–there’s not just one device. And so what it’s actually done is increased our sales.”
Don’t forget the Playbook marketing slogan: “Amateur Hour is Over” and how badly the Playbook has sold.
That all said, not every good or bad decision comes from the top. In fact many companies have succeeded despite their bad management at the top: it’s just rare and a lot of hard work for the people at the more hands-on level of the company.
Thorsten Heins has a challenge to get RIM back on track. I wish him all the best, but I fear the ship that it RIM is sinking and there’s no nice and easy way to stem the flow.