RIM's strategy of marketing, Android apps, and low-end devices fails to excite

Canadian smartphone pioneer Research in Motion announced on Sunday that its co-chairmen Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie would be stepping down, and former Siemens CTO Thorsten Heins would be rising from his position of Chief Operating Officer at RIM to the role of Chief Executive.

Heins' formal introduction to the public seems to have done little to change the public's mind about Research in Motion and its prospects as a competitor against Android and Apple smartphones.

"My focus going forward is for RIM to continue to develop and market customer-focused products and services that will carry the company well into the next decade," Heins said in RIM's call with analysts on Monday morning. "We will accomplish this by drawing upon our talented hardware and software development teams, implementing processes and controls to ensure effective execution of our strategies, and building on our unique competitive advantages. We will also bring in new talent as required. We are in the process of recruiting a new chief marketing officer to work closely with our product and sales team to deliver the most compelling products and services. My approach is to empower employees to take appropriate risks, make decisions and to be accountable for their actions. I will make sure they have the tools and resources they need to be successful. When they succeed as individuals, we succeed as a company."

Heins went on to highlight his plans for the company, which include ramping up Marketing efforts in the United States:

"We need to be more marketing driven, we need to be more consumer-oriented, because this is where a lot of our growth is coming from. It is essential in the U.S."

Adapting the BlackBerry development lifecycle:

"You've got to understand, RIM has gone through a tremendous growth phase and has scaled really fast...and successfully, I would say. We innovated while we were developing the product, and that needs to stop. We need to innovate, don't get me wrong. But we will do this now with much more emphasis on prototyping and core testing. We have great teams that can try stuff out, but when we say a product is defined, and a product is a product, execution has to be really precise."

Pushing "a whole new" BlackBerry 10 that includes Android support:

"BlackBerry 10 is not just a new OS...it's a whole new architecture, starts from hardware, OS, drivers, runtimes, applications...Also a totally new development environment, so HTML5-native, AIR, Flash, Cascade...we got fantastic feedback from our developer conference in the US, and we will do Asia-Pac and Europe in the next two weeks. So that work is under way, and we are preparing for an upgrade for our ecosystem to BlackBerry 10...on PlayBook 2.0 and BlackBerry 10, we will also have an Android player on it, so we're covering the long tail of applications...I think that is a very very strong element of our strategy."

Keeping a single RIM:

"Frankly, if your value proposition is the device alone, it is a cutthroat price and cost business. So my view on RIM is very clear. We are strong because we have an integrated solution, we are vertical, we have our network, we have our services, we have our enterprise servers out there with more than 250,000 enterprises connected to it, and we have fantastic devices and a fantastic ecosystem that we're building. I want to build on that. I will not in any way split this up or separate into different businesses.

Licensing BlackBerry OS:

"I'm absolutely confident that BlackBerry 10 will prove itself as a platform. If there are requests coming to RIM to talk about licensing that platform to other companies, I will entertain those discussions. I will listen, I will assess the business opportunity for RIM, and if it makes sense strategically and tactically to go down that path, then I will make that decision together with the board. But it's not my [primary] focus."

Even with these strategies in line, RIM's stock took a sudden drop after the investor call on Monday. NYSE-listed shares in the company are currently trading at $15.84 on Monday, down 6.8 percent from Friday's close of $17.

Photo: Steve Heap/Shutterstock

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