RIM co-CEOs co-resign, co-COO Thorsten Heins takes over

I think the Globe and Mail was the first to report that RIM’s beleaguered CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are out – moved upstairs to the boardroom.  The strangest thing about the story, and really the past few years, is the total denial by the leadership that Blackberry is in a death spiral.

Research In Motion Ltd.’s new chief executive officer says the company is doing everything right and does not need a change in strategy, and must instead focus on harnessing its talent to improve the BlackBerry and revive sales.

“It’s a fantastic growth story and it’s not coming to an end,” Mr. Heins said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “What you will see with me is rigour and flawless execution.”

When asked whether he thought the appointment of Ms. Stymiest as chair and himself as CEO would be enough to satisfy investors, Mr. Heins retorted, “Change to what? Change for what?”

He continued, “I mean, what’s the objective of a change? We’ve made a lot of changes in the past 18 months. Not changes, but also evolution. I changed a lot of my management team, in hardware, software … I’ve trained a lot of other people in the last four years. What do you think I did? … We didn’t stand still in the last 18 months, we did our homework. And I think we will complete our homework soon.”

Even in appointing a current co-COO, who looks even less charismatic than either of the two people he replaces (video below), RIM is hedging its bets on Blackberry 10/QNX, which it won’t release until the end of 2012 on phones —if it bucks recent trends and ships on time.  Heins joined RIM just as the iPhone was released in 2007, and he has seen the company’s market share dive.

RIM’s tablet effort, the Playbook, is barely selling and only when priced below cost.  It still somehow does not natively do email.

It is hard not to feel bad for the position this once great company is now in.

(Making it easier, RIM has scheduled an 8am ET Monday conference call with the press on the details. Press release follows) Read more

ChangeWave: iPhone steals more than half planned smartphone purchases

According to the latest ChangeWave Research survey posted Monday, both Apple and Samsung are enjoying “explosive momentum” as 2012 begins while other handset makers are struggling to win the hearts of minds of consumers, such as Canada-based Research In Motion, which today updated its struggling BlackBerry platform with new software features, and Taiwan-based HTC, which posted a 26 percent income drop today —its first quarterly profit decline in two years.

Based on data obtained from 4,000 North American consumers, 54 percent of respondents planning to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days will opt for an iPhone. This is a drop from 65 percent last quarter, but more than enough to keep the coveted title of the most sought-after device. The iPhone’s “industry leading” customer satisfaction remains off the chart at 75 percent by vendor and mobile OS each (3 in 4 iPhone owners said they are ‘Very Satisfied’ with their device). Google’s Android is second with 47 percent mobile OS satisfaction rating and Samsung and HTC are at 47 percent each…

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Millennial: iOS and RIM gain over Android, Kindle Fire beats iPad in adoption rate

Analytics firm Millennial Media, the second-largest mobile advertising platform behind Google, on Tuesday, released its monthly Mobile Mix report for November. Similar to their October survey that saw Android’s growth slowing (and iOS gaining). Compared to the summer period for November, both Apple’s and Research in Motion’s respective platform grew at the expense of Google. Specifically, Android went from 56 percent ad requests in October to 50 percent in November.

Meanwhile, iOS went from 28 percent ad requests in October to 30 percent in November. The BlackBerry platform recorded the biggest gain of all mobile platforms, increasing its share of ad requests from 13 percent in October to 17 percent in November. Because both iOS and BlackBerry grew their combined ad impressions by six percentage points, the same amount Android lost in the period, it is safe to assume that Apple and Research In Motion gained traction at the expense of Google’s mobile platform.

The findings are in stark contrast to the seemingly unstoppable Android growth that appears to have slowed down during the crucial holiday sales period. Android in November doubled iOS in ad impressions, but last month – its respective share changed to 50 percent for Android versus 30 percent for iOS. The Kindle Fire vs. iPad adoption figures and more info graphic charts are available below.

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Reality check: Apple’s iPad has no competition

“Is 2011 going to be the year of copycats?”, Apple’s then chief executive rhetorically asked at the March iPad 2 introduction in San Francisco. Really, the title of this article couldn’t be more true. iPad is now stealing market share from Android, climbing from 65.7 percent share to 68.3 percent globally as Android slipped from 34.0 percent to 26.8 percent. HP exited the game, having retired its TouchPad and today lackluster sales of RIM’s PlayBook tablet made the news.

Apple decimated competition so thoroughly that analysts are saying the company can take its time releasing a third-generation iPad. According to J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz, Apple should be in “no rush” with iPad 3:

Our latest research continues to indicate that there is no such device slated for production this year. In our view, Apple should be in no rush. The other tablet entrants have stumbled so far, and that trend-line could persist deep into 2012.

He also wasn’t impressed by Sony’s tablet which “lacks the refined, sleek feel of the iPad and its bezel-like back is not user-friendly”. And Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet? On a downward spiral and probably due for life support. Per RIM’s quarterly filing, they shipped only 200,000 PlayBooks in the quarter, a paltry number compared to Wall Street expectations of 700,000 units. RIM refused to reveal actual sell-through as it is no doubt significantly lower than the sell-in. Ticonderoga analyst Brian White weighs in:

We believe the PlayBook is poised to follow HP’s TouchPad as the next casualty of iPad’s tablet dominance

To put PlayBook sales into perspective, RIM shipped one PlayBook to every 46 iPads. With just 200,000 units, PlayBook may very well be heading to the technology graveyard. BlackBerry phones are also shrinking due to “lower than expected sales for older models”. One fifth of RIM’s stock valuation was wiped out today as a result of poor tablet and smartphone performance. By the way, RIM’s global market share is now dropping to single digits. Did the Waterloo, Ontario company learn a valuable lesson?


Many watchers have written off the PlayBook, but RIM has bigger worries on its mind: Its smartphone business is declining and global market share dropping to single digits. Chart courtesy of Asymco.

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Microsoft steals the “Wait ’til next year” strategy from the Cubs

Today was Microsoft’s Windows Tablet 8 unveiling.  The product on the surface looks cool, people are hyped, but alas it will be a year before real products are given to real people.  The iPad 3 with its Retina Display will have been on the market for months and Google will have iterated 10,000 Beta releases of Android before then on 200 different pieces of tablet hardware.

On top of that, this new OS is really just smashing together Windows Phone 7 Metro UI Windowing (some admittedly nice UI features) with Windows 7 applications.  Real world use of Windows 7 apps in tablet form isn’t going to be fun.  I’ve tried using Windows on the Parallels iPad app – and it is OK in a pinch, but apps need to be redesigned 100% to work in tablet mode effectively.  Try entering data into Excel on a tablet for instance.  Then try Numbers on an iPad – it is slightly better.

Luckily, just about every iOS app was designed or redesigned first for touch over the past four years.  Microsoft is, today, telling its developers to do the same for their Windows apps.

How long can Microsoft keep up its “next year” strategy?  Windows 8 tablet isn’t the only thing coming “Next Year”.

Two years ago, Microsoft made the decision to scrap Windows Mobile and said: “Next year we’ll have Windows Phone 7″.  When Windows Phone didn’t grab much attention at the end of last year, Microsoft ‘bought Nokia’ and said, by the end of this year we’ll have some top quality phones from Nokia.  We’re waiting to see how that pans out, but by the time Nokia can produce anything with a Windows logo on it, it will have fallen from #1 in the world in smartphones to #4 or #5 behind Apple, Samsung and probably HTC and RIM.  But Windows Mango devices are coming to AT&T, have you heard?

How did this “wait until next year” thing become business as usual for Microsoft?   Read more

Gartner: Trends continue as iOS and Android swallow up smartphone industry

Gartner’s latest global smartphone numbers are out and if your name isn’t iOS or Android, the future looks pretty bleak.  While iOS continues to gain share at pace even without a new model release (up one point for the quarter and over 4 points year over year), the bigger story continues to be Android’s outright theft of marketshare from Symbian.  Just in the last quarter, 10 percent of the market shifted from Symbian to Android and for the year, the number is close to 20%

Meanwhile Blackberry continued its paced slide down another 2 points quarter over quarter while Samsung’s Bada made modest gains. In the “Other” category, Windows Phone 7 somehow lost market share falling from 2% to 1% and Windows Mobile is now off the charts.  HP’s webOS  is somewhere in the “other” as well with Meego and the ghosts of smartphone past.

Graph via PED, cross posted on 9to5Google.com Read more