Warding Off Those BlackBerry Blues

As BlackBerry maker Research in Motion turns the page on one of the most tumultuous months in its history, word comes from The Record.com that former CEO Mike Lazaridis is adding $50 million worth of stock in the mobile giant to his portfolio. Call it a doubling down of sorts on his belief that RIM has a bright future.

As BlackBerry maker Research in Motion turns the page on one of the most tumultuous months in its history, word comes from The Record.com that former CEO Mike Lazaridis is adding $50 million worth of stock in the mobile giant to his portfolio. Call it a doubling down of sorts on his belief that RIM has a bright future.

I applaud Lazaridis, who founded the company in 1984, for this move and for showing support for a product he dearly loves and in which he believes wholeheartedly. I only hope that Thorsten Heins, now at the helm of RIM, uses that monetary and confidence infusion to dream big. Steady as she goes is not a good path for the company when other platforms, including Apple and Android, are becoming what was once unthinkable for them -- corporate darlings.

Having been an early champion of BlackBerry --- even somewhat of a poster child for the technology within my former company --- I also wish them well. It's similar to how I feel about the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team I rooted for in my youth. I still have a fondness for them (except when they're playing my New England Patriots).

The question is: How to right the RIM ship? How can RIM whisper to corporate executives that BlackBerry is still the best strategy amidst the din of consumer-driven and network-infiltrating devices? It's an argument that is getting increasingly difficult to make -- especially in a bring-your-own-device-to-work era.

What RIM always had going for it is the centrally managed, highly secure, "closed" environment. However, the "not Blackberrys" of the world have narrowed the gap and developed what is in many industries "good enough" enterprise security balanced against employee craving for iPhones, iPads and other popular devices.

So does RIM go niche? Does Heins, as the newly minted CEO, focus on a few vertical markets that still have wanderlust for BlackBerry and use every tool in the RIM shed to dominate them? Heins tells Reuters that he has "significant" plans for the company. But without a turn away from what made the company great, it's hard to imagine what those plans could be.

I feel for RIM, stuck in its own image. So much so that perception is now trumping any technology advances. Heins' plan to get current users the newer phones is certainly a good first step. Nothing promotes competition like envy. However, it's going to take innovation vs. saturation to keep RIM in this game.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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