RIM Co-CEO: “We’ve Been Singled Out Because We’re So Successful Around the World”

by Jordan Richardson on April 14, 2011

Research In Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis wasn’t too happy with the questions asked by BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, so he cut the interview short. Lazaridis was being interviewed by the BBC on Wednesday with he was asked about the BlackBerry’s difficulties in the Middle East and India.

Cellan-Jones asked the RIM boss about the “problems” the company has had in terms of security in the aforementioned regions and Lazaridis didn’t like it too much. He apparently felt that the way the question was phrased implied that RIM had a “security problem,” adding that his company had been “singled out because we’re so successful around the world.”

When Cellan-Jones asked for assurance that BlackBerry users in the Middle East and India would be able to use the products put out by Lazaridis’ firm, the visibly upset co-CEO announced “It’s over. Interview’s over.” That was that.

We’ve documented RIM’s “problems” with security in India and the Middle East on these pages extensively. It’s no secret that the company has gone round after round with governments in these countries over issues of access and, yes, security. Asking for assurances for consumers in the aforesaid regions is hardly “unfair,” but it’s clearly an issue that makes RIM uncomfortable.

“It’s an iconic product, used by business, it’s used by leaders, it’s used by celebrities, it’s used by consumers, it’s used by teenagers, we were just singled out.” said Lazaridis.

Whether or not RIM is being “singled out” is irrelevant. What matters to consumers is how far Research In Motion is willing to go to do business in the Middle East and India. With governments in these countries asking for access to encrypted emails and more, it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder about what sorts of concessions the company is willing to make. It’s also perfectly reasonable to wonder about what these concessions will mean to consumers. In other words, can they be assured as to the security of RIM’s products?

RIM already gave Saudi authorities the keys to the kingdom when they continued their stance of “high-level concessions” with world governments keen on censorship and control. The Waterloo company has also provided porn filters to the Indonesian government and tossed concessions to the Indian government as well.

Lazaridis may fully believe that his company has been singled out. And he may be right. But leaving an interview in a huff over reasonable questions a few days removed from the release of the PlayBook is not going to help instil confidence in consumers or potential consumers.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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Barb L April 14, 2011 at 7:50 am

Excellent point Jordan. It’s a CEO’s responsibility to stand-up in the face of adversity and to deal with both good and bad situations. If Lazaridis doesn’t have the capacity to deal with these situations, reporters, bad annual reports … he should remove himself from the spot light and appoint another spokes person. This reflects very poorly on RIM.

Maarten April 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

Amazing interview and the, I assume, emotional reaction from Lazaridis. This issue has been going on for so long now and I can imagine his frustration. But, not only RIM face this scrutiny, also Google has issues.

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