Employee rips RIM bosses in open letter

Unnamed worker says that chaos reigns at RIM, and contends that BlackBerry is years behind iPhone

A blistering letter from a senior employee to the top two bosses at Research in Motion contends that chaos in the organization has put BlackBerry years behind the iPhone.

In the letter published by online news site BGR, the writer calls on Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, RIM's co-CEOs, to lay off unproductive workers while considering stepping aside themselves.

The site doesn't identify the writer of the open letter, but says it has verfied that it was written by a high-level RIM employee.

"We are the middle of a major 'transition' and things have never been more chaotic," the letter says, then lists eight suggestions for changes.

For instance, the letter calls on executives to reduce RIM's product line and to "stop shipping incomplete products that aren't ready for the end user."

A notable example, not mentioned by the writer but widely noted, could be the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which was released April 19 without native email capabilities. That update is expected this summer.

The letter further suggests that the co-CEOs adopt a tone of "humility with a dash of paranoia" in the face of criticism over RIM's co-CEO structure.

It further accuses the leaders of "overconfidence [that] clouds good decision-making." The writer cited the company's lack of a bold response to Apple's iPhone following its unveiling four years ago.

"We are now 3-4 years too late ... It was a major strategic oversight and we know who is responsible," the letter says.

The writer said RIM's leaders needed a new operating system like the QNX software used in the new PlayBook tablet.

"Perhaps it is time to seriously consider a new, fresh thinking, experienced CEO," the letter adds.

It also suggests laying off underperforming workers, charging that there's "no accountability--Canadians are too nice." RIM is based in Waterloo, Ontario.

The letter also calls on putting a greater focus on customers, instead of working to please carriers that sell BlackBerry devices.

"We often make product decisions based on strategic alighment, partner requests or even legal advice--the end user doesn't care," the letter says. "We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world and products sold out for months. These people aren't hypnotized zombies; they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work."

RIM did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.

IDC recently said that BlackBerry smartphones will make up 14% of the global market in 2011, and dip to 13% by 2015 due to increased competition, though it will sell more devices due to the overall growth of the market.

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

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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