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New RIM CEO must first execute strategy, analysts say

January 23, 2012 02:45 PM ET

"But 12 months [to turn RIM around] is too aggressive an expectation," he said. "If the new CEO is held to 12 months, he likely won't be seen as successful, Turnaround efforts typically take 36 to 60 months."

Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner, said under the current RIM technology roadmap, development of smartphone and touchscreen technology could prove troubling for Heins and RIM.

"The challenges for RIM remain as they were before the management change," Dulaney said. "They have missed the touchscreen market both in smartphones and tablets. They must make some aggressive moves to change their fortunes."

Dulaney criticized the PlayBook 2.0 user interface improvements RIM officials previewed at CES. The changes "may be too little and too late to bring the developer community to RIM, something they desperately need," he said.

Developers of smartphone and tablet apps want to put their efforts into platforms that will be highly popular, so RIM may need to adopt Android as its smartphone and tablet OS while using the QNX software as an "overlay," Dulaney suggested.

Many analysts offered a somewhat radical suggestion to the new CEO: License its OS to other manufacturers. Heins today said that he will listen to parties looking to license BlackBerry 10, though he added that licensing the software isn't a priority for the company today.

Dulaney also said that RIM needs to improve its marketing plans for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and its related consumer-grade product. "It offers unique security and efficiency capabilities," he said, but noted that RIM hasn't yet offered price incentives to attract customers.

Analysts agreed that Heins' appointment is a strong, positive step for RIM, but more needs to be done.

"Changing the CEO in and of itself will not turn things around," said Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates. "RIM also needs to get the new BlackBerry 10 OS out as a quickly as possible -- and make sure it shines."

Gold added that it's important to remember that RIM is "not doing badly in many parts of the world" and is still making money.

"They are not falling into obscurity. At the end of the day, it will be about execution," Gold said.

Going up against Android and iOS will require RIM to be "less Canadian -- laid back -- and more aggressive in marketing, which hopefully [Heins] will bring," Gold added.

Gartner analyst Carolina Mianesi said it is hard to predict how well RIM will do in coming months, partly because Heins hasn't laid out many details.

"Right now, I do not think that RIM knows what their focus will be," she said. "It will take a long time before we see market share gain and ... margin improvements."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter@matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed Hamblen RSS. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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