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As if Research in Motion needed more controversy surrounding its appointment of new CEO Thorston Heins, now a RIM director is arguing that it simply couldn’t have chosen a new CEO from outside the company because the only available choices (at that time) were idiots.
“So we’re supposed to hand it over to children, or morons from the outside who will destroy the company?” RIM director Roger Martin told the Globe and Mail in an interview. “Or should we try to build our way to having succession?”
Martin was responding to critics of the company who argued that RIM should have replaced its original co-CEOs, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, much earlier. While it’s often refreshing to see a high-level employee speak with such candor, Martin’s comments just make RIM seem more out of touch with its failures in the mobile industry. It certainly doesn’t help that RIM’s new CEO doesn’t think the company needs to change much.
What’s most galling about these comments is that Martin implies there’s no one who could have saved RIM except for Heins, who at this point appears to be nothing more than a puppet appointee by the company’s former co-CEOs. Heins has yet to announce anything that would give us more faith in RIM, and he seems to be wholeheartedly supporting the company’s current downward trajectory.
It’s clear to anyone with a pair of eyes that RIM was unprepared for the rise of the iPhone and Android. And, when confronted with new competitors, the company failed to adapt to survive. It’s a prime example of the innovator’s dilemma — the notion that industry leaders can be blinded to major disruptions within their fields.
RIM’s stock fell like a rock throughout 2011, losing over three-quarters of its value. The company also announced that its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 devices, which will finally offer updated hardware and software to compete with modern smartphones, would be delayed until the end of 2012. These certainly aren’t the signs of a healthy company.
As for those that argue RIM should license its software and give up on an integrated hardware business, Martin also had some words of wisdom: “So that is what the geniuses who have all these clever thoughts about business models are saying – and a big piece of me just laughs: Have you no memory? Do you not even think?”
Do you not even think? Indeed.
Broken BlackBerry image: Miggslives/Flickr