RIM hears Whispers of Mutiny: Talks of Changes at the Top

by Matt Klassen on June 2, 2011

They made the name ‘Blackberry’ synonymous with mobile business technology, they made the abbreviation ‘BBM’ synonymous with safe and secure messaging services, heck, they made Research in Motion into a leader in the global smartphone market, but if the rumours are true, it looks like Research in Motion (RIM) co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie may be soon be standing in the unemployment line.

Unable to compete with the unbridled popularity of Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Android OS, over the last year RIM has seen a consistent downward turn in its stock prices as more and more enterprise users turn away from Blackberry’s uptight and straight-laced image to phones that are perceived as more versatile, more fun.

In fact, as Reuters reports, as shares drop shareholder discontent is inversely on the rise, as investors are quickly running out of patience with the core leadership group whose strategic missteps have left the company trying to play catch-up in a cutthroat mobile market. In fact, things are so bad; whispers of mutiny are now floating through RIM’s halls.

The obvious impact that the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie has had on my writing aside, the mutinous grumblings began almost a month ago at RIM’s annual Blackberry World Conference, as about the only common ground investors were able to find was how dissatisfied each one was with the direction RIM has been heading.

The problem for Lazaridis and Balsillie is one not uncommon in the world of innovation; the ability to keep innovating. There’s no question that RIM’s two co-CEOs did a masterful job at growing a global mobile brand on the premise of providing enterprise users unrivalled security and ease-of-use. But unfortunately what worked ten years ago simply isn’t working now, and the once great innovators now look like two stubborn men stuck in the antiquated ideas of the past.

While no one in RIM’s shareholder group has publicly stated that either Lazaridis or Balsillie are done at the company, its clear that investors see both men as “taxed for time” to miraculously spearhead a strong recovery. In fact, Reuters has speculated that a group of deep pocket activist investors could initiate a corporate mutiny in the next few months if both men continue to show an inability to compete in the mobile market, but just what would it take for such a mutiny to take place?

Initiating a mutiny on a pirate ship is easy, all it takes is the ability to convince sea-addled crewman that they’ll make more money without their captain, corporate mutiny is exactly the same, the key difference being, how much money it takes the latter to run the captains out of office.

But who would lead the revolt? Internal discontent aside, there are many deep-pocketed carrion birds in the investor market that circle struggling companies like Research in Motion, waiting for the moment when shareholders cry out for change to swoop in like a veritable white knight. Just how close RIM is to that point, however, still remains to be seen.

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

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