04-15-15 10:28 AM
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  1. Troy Tiscareno's Avatar
    At 27, this guy quit a $500,000 job at BlackBerry to launch a startup born out of his frustration working there | Financial Post

    I just saw this article today in my feed, and I thought it would be an interesting view of the corporate culture at RIM prior to the BB10 launch. My intention is not to bash BB, but to give folks here some perspective on why BB is still struggling today, and the choices that were made 10-15 years ago by senior management that lead to this. Many are now blaming Chen for BB's current issues, but as this and a few other articles have shown, the problem largely stems from the corporate culture created primarily by Mike Lazaridis, who was so sure of his own vision that he created a completely top-down culture where his ideas were "right" and people weren't expected to question the orders from above.

    There's no doubt that Mike was a great engineer, and he figured out how to solve problems he understood, but it was also clear that he didn't understand where the mobile world was going, and in fact had built BB based around the fact that it would take a LONG time to get there, and when Apple released the iPhone after more than a year of rumors, it seemed to catch him completely by surprise (when another company in RIM's position might have started working on a competitor based on the rumors alone), and put RIM in a position where they were in solid denial for several years, and didn't make their first serious step towards a modern OS for over 3 years after the iPhone's launch, when they purchased QNX in 2010. All that lost time is really where BB lost the market, and is the reason why they continue to struggle.

    I see question after question here about "why isn't BB more successful" or "why don't people recognize BB more" or "why isn't Chen (and before that, Heins) doing more?" The answers to those questions really starts with the culture of the company. Mike had said in very early interviews that he started BB to be a company where (and I'm paraphrasing) "the engineers didn't have to justify themselves to the businessmen" and could be free to solve the engineering problems as they saw fit. No question, the engineers did well solving the engineering problems, but when the market was poised to change with the advent of much faster 3G (and later 4G) networking speeds, BB was so invested in their 2G solutions that they couldn't see the future, and more importantly, weren't used to anyone telling them (upper management) that their vision might not be right. Unable to shift gears, BB missed a major turn in the road, and continues to suffer from that miss even today.

    It's unfair to heap too much blame on Heins or Chen, though to be fair, Heins was part of the Mike and Jim regime. Still, the root of BB's struggles must be laid at Mike's (and Jim's) feet, not Chen's. I suspect that if Chen had been installed in 2007 that Microsoft would be the one struggling along at <.5% marketshare and BB would have been a solid player with a solid ecosystem behind it. Of course, had Mike built a corporate culture where people at the bottom were asked for their feedback and actually listened to, then BB might be in that same solid position too...
    02-16-15 11:41 AM
  2. Bla1ze's Avatar
    I wasn't aware there was much argument about it.. or maybe I just realized it long ago so I don't pay much attention now. Mike and Jim were a blessing and a curse to BlackBerry. Thorsten was the fall guy, the clean up man and Chen was brought in to put the pieces back together. I dunno how anyone could really blame Thorsten or Chen with straight face. The insane quotes from Mike and Jim alone should be enough to squash most 'arguments' lol.
    3Dee, web99, anon1727506 and 23 others like this.
    02-16-15 11:52 AM
  3. Oglon3r's Avatar
    This is widely understood and so far agreed upon.
    Without a doubt Blackberry without a strong mature leadership (like Chen's) was nearly sank into extinction.
    This happens to companies all around and some are never be to stay afloat much less survive.
    Blackberry in that regard has done extraordinarily good.

    Your analysis is pretty much the same as the one by polygon in the fall of thq. Check it in the link below.
    http://www.polygon.com/covers/2014/1...he-fall-of-thq


    Supporting the people's struggle worldwide via my STA 100-5, Z30.
    02-16-15 11:59 AM
  4. Bbnivende's Avatar
    I would say that it was a mistake to not fully adopt Android apps for the Playbook and it's mobile successor. If they would have concentrated their efforts into making a reliable Z10 running an early version if BBX using Android Apps, coming to market in June. 2012, they might have been more successful.

    Their continued strategy of only offering native apps is a complete failure then and now.
    02-16-15 04:05 PM
  5. Troy Tiscareno's Avatar
    I would say that it was a mistake to not fully adopt Android apps for the Playbook and it's mobile successor. If they would have concentrated their efforts into making a reliable Z10 running an early version if BBX using Android Apps, coming to market in June. 2012, they might have been more successful.

    Their continued strategy of only offering native apps is a complete failure then and now.
    I disagree. IMO, relying on Android apps is what will ultimately doom BB10. I don't believe a platform can survive without native apps, which is why BB needed to be hard at work on (what became BB10) back in 2007 at the latest, and really, back in 2005, when the first substantial rumors of Apple working on a smartphone were going around. Reason? Because they needed NATIVE apps, and being 6 years late to the game assured that they'd never get them in the quantity and quality they'd need to be competitive.

    If they had started development in 2007, and had BB10 released in 2010, they'd have had a decent shot (but still no guarantee) of a successful ecosystem to back it up. Expectations were much lower in 2010, and BB10's rough edges would have been more easily forgiven, and the BB name still had some prestige and desirability in the consumer smartphone market.

    Releasing in 2013, they never had a chance, which is why myself and many others thought they were crazy not adopting Android in 2010 (when they bought QNX instead), which they could have released no later than 2011. Instead, they started from scratch, building on the foundation of QNX, and as a result, didn't even have an OS that was acceptably ready until 2014 (even the most ardent BB10 fan will admit that the OS wasn't really ready until 10.2.1). As a result, BB10's worldwide marketshare is around 0.3%, and still falling, even as the overall market continues to grow.

    For general consumers, BB10's Android compatibility, even if it was nearly perfect, would not be an acceptable substitute for a factory-integrated native app store, but the reality is that Android compatibility is FAR from perfect and far from easy. Sure, it's enough to satisfy hardcore BB10 enthusiasts, who are FAR more technical, and much more forgiving, then the average customer, but it also killed native development, which is the only thing that would have attracted the mass-market consumer and made BB10 a viable platform.
    02-16-15 04:50 PM
  6. motec bb's Avatar
    Very true and well said.

    But I still have "some" faith in Chen and his crew, although it is dwindling daily......

    Q10 on 10.3.0.908
    02-16-15 05:12 PM
  7. fmb8's Avatar
    I wasn't aware there was much argument about it.. or maybe I just realized it long ago so I don't pay much attention now. Mike and Jim were a blessing and a curse to BlackBerry. Thorsten was the fall guy, the clean up man and Chen was brought in to put the pieces back together. I dunno how anyone could really blame Thorsten or Chen with straight face. The insane quotes from Mike and Jim alone should be enough to squash most 'arguments' lol.
    Well said.
    Some of their quotes are hilarious!

    Mike's attitude about engineers not being questioned by management, or anyone else for that matter, isn't just a 'Mike' problem. I hate to single out an occupation, but if you've ever worked with an engineer, that attitude isn't specific to Mike L alone. It's been my experience that ALL engineers have that attitude! They possess a God complex that they must be taught in school or something, it's outrageous!

    Posted via CB10
    02-16-15 05:28 PM
  8. cathulu15's Avatar
    Haven't we heard enough of this story? My god what is the point of it all now. And no my head is not in the sand!

    I am new to BlackBerry for about 2 years now and I have heard enough about Mike and Jim to write the history myself.



    Posted via CB10
    02-16-15 07:32 PM
  9. AlaJack's Avatar
    I've always held BlackBerry would / will die out unless they can win using their own apps. Android apps on BlackBerry are pathetic and always have been. Biggest mistake BlackBerry ever made with BlackBerry 10 was to put android runtime on it. That's just common damn sense... of which BlackBerry has never been accused of having.

    Posted via CB10
    02-16-15 07:41 PM
  10. shaleem's Avatar
    Well said.
    Some of their quotes are hilarious!

    Mike's attitude about engineers not being questioned by management, or anyone else for that matter, isn't just a 'Mike' problem. I hate to single out an occupation, but if you've ever worked with an engineer, that attitude isn't specific to Mike L alone. It's been my experience that ALL engineers have that attitude! They possess a God complex that they must be taught in school or something, it's outrageous!

    Posted via CB10
    Amen!

    Posted using my Z10
    TCB on Z10 likes this.
    02-16-15 07:53 PM
  11. LuvULongTime's Avatar
    I disagree. IMO, relying on Android apps is what will ultimately doom BB10. I don't believe a platform can survive without native apps, which is why BB needed to be hard at work on (what became BB10) back in 2007 at the latest, and really, back in 2005, when the first substantial rumors of Apple working on a smartphone were going around. Reason? Because they needed NATIVE apps, and being 6 years late to the game assured that they'd never get them in the quantity and quality they'd need to be competitive.

    If they had started development in 2007, and had BB10 released in 2010, they'd have had a decent shot (but still no guarantee) of a successful ecosystem to back it up. Expectations were much lower in 2010, and BB10's rough edges would have been more easily forgiven, and the BB name still had some prestige and desirability in the consumer smartphone market.

    Releasing in 2013, they never had a chance, which is why myself and many others thought they were crazy not adopting Android in 2010 (when they bought QNX instead), which they could have released no later than 2011. Instead, they started from scratch, building on the foundation of QNX, and as a result, didn't even have an OS that was acceptably ready until 2014 (even the most ardent BB10 fan will admit that the OS wasn't really ready until 10.2.1). As a result, BB10's worldwide marketshare is around 0.3%, and still falling, even as the overall market continues to grow.

    For general consumers, BB10's Android compatibility, even if it was nearly perfect, would not be an acceptable substitute for a factory-integrated native app store, but the reality is that Android compatibility is FAR from perfect and far from easy. Sure, it's enough to satisfy hardcore BB10 enthusiasts, who are FAR more technical, and much more forgiving, then the average customer, but it also killed native development, which is the only thing that would have attracted the mass-market consumer and made BB10 a viable platform.
    I don't disagree with anything you wrote. If we go on the assumption that they started developing bb10 back in 2007 then it would have made sense to focus on native apps and not touch android compatibility.

    BUT that wasn't the case. We have to live in the here and now. And in 2013 when bb10 launched, native devs already decided they were not going to touch the platform. BlackBerry never had, and never will have Microsoft's deep pockets to pay devs and wait it out. It was android apps, or no apps and close the doors on the company.

    Posted via CB10
    bigbadben10 and Bbnivende like this.
    02-16-15 07:53 PM
  12. motec bb's Avatar
    I've always held BlackBerry would / will die out unless they can win using their own apps. Android apps on BlackBerry are pathetic and always have been. Biggest mistake BlackBerry ever made with BlackBerry 10 was to put android runtime on it. That's just common damn sense... of which BlackBerry has never been accused of having.

    Posted via CB10
    Strongly disagree.

    I only was willing to drop my old BBOS phone and choose the Q10 because I heard it can run android apps.

    As we speak I have Waze, Amazon, Google Maps Capital One, and Ebay open and in use. If I didn't know from the start that these android apps work, I wouldn't have touched BB10

    So did all the BB10 users I know.

    Obviously it's not a perfect situation, but it's better than BlackBerry disappearing completely.

    Q10 on 10.3.0.908
    02-16-15 08:00 PM
  13. LoneStarRed's Avatar
    It was ever thus and ever thus it shall be. Hubris in abundance has doomed many and will doom many more still. Surrounding yourself with yes men has been proven to be terminal since the beginning of time.

    Humility, self reflection and having the courage to have people around you who speak truth are more valuable than the gold you will gain and invariably lose if you do not.

    Bonus question: What phone maker is on top of the world right now and refuses to truly react and to innovate because their way is always the right one and their mountains of cash(gold) tell them it's true?

    2nd Bonus question: Which current head of state......etc? (North America) ?

    "If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by."

    "There is nothing new under the sun".

    "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty nature before a fall."

    " I do not think that word means what you think it means. "
    ArcPlug, LuvULongTime and bungaboy like this.
    02-16-15 08:04 PM
  14. LoneStarRed's Avatar
    Thanks for the piece and the perspective it offers Troy.


    One quote from the piece: " We are not for everyone. One of them is BlackBerry. " Ouch! I really hope the changes Chen has wrought make that statement a thing of the past.


    " I do not think that word means what you think it means. "
    02-16-15 08:05 PM
  15. tmf06's Avatar
    I'm sure there were/are problems with BlackBerry management, but an ex-employee marketing his new product may not be the best source.

    There are about 1200 reviews at glassdoor.com that could provide a more rounded picture...

    http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Bla...iews-E9091.htm

    Posted via CB10
    LoneStarRed likes this.
    02-16-15 08:11 PM
  16. prplhze2000's Avatar
    Android apps don't run well?

    I'm perfectly satisfied with the Pandora, netflix, and police scanners apps on my Q. Drudge and NPR have been pretty good as well.

    Posted via CB10
    02-16-15 08:28 PM
  17. Bla1ze's Avatar
    Also, why is this story being resurfaced again?

    Why One Entrepreneur Left His $500,000-a-year Job to Tackle a Massive Problem - Forbes
    http://www.inc.com/cameron-albert-de...rmanently.html

    Notice much more emphasis on BlackBerry this time around, which is a bit shady. It's like this guy is sending out PR on his life lol.
    02-16-15 08:41 PM
  18. LoneStarRed's Avatar
    Well said.
    Some of their quotes are hilarious!

    Mike's attitude about engineers not being questioned by management, or anyone else for that matter, isn't just a 'Mike' problem. I hate to single out an occupation, but if you've ever worked with an engineer, that attitude isn't specific to Mike L alone. It's been my experience that ALL engineers have that attitude! They possess a God complex that they must be taught in school or something, it's outrageous!

    Posted via CB10
    True This! We generally avoid engineers as clients in our firm. They "know too much " and "research and get back to you". They are slow to make decisions because they spend way too much time in the left side of the brain( analytical) . Decisions are made in the right side( emotional) .

    " I do not think that word means what you think it means. "
    02-16-15 08:44 PM
  19. LoneStarRed's Avatar
    Also, why is this story being resurfaced again?

    Why One Entrepreneur Left His $500,000-a-year Job to Tackle a Massive Problem - Forbes
    http://www.inc.com/cameron-albert-de...rmanently.html

    Notice much more emphasis on BlackBerry this time around, which is a bit shady. It's like this guy is sending out PR on his life lol.
    Are you saying this is agenda driven. I'm shocked, shocked I say to hear that. And yes it is a bit Slim Shady.

    " I do not think that word means what you think it means. "
    02-16-15 08:47 PM
  20. BerryRipe's Avatar
    Man all I know is Chen better know what the *#&$ he's doing or he better start making a plan "B" or plan "C" because even BlackBerry users are starting to say "too little, too late" and that's just downright sad.

    Even if thats just people's opinions (which it is) people are starting (some have been for a long time) to give up on BlackBerry all together or at least on the handset market.

    Rant over*

    Posted via CB10
    02-16-15 08:50 PM
  21. BCITMike's Avatar
    I don't think this guy will be making good money like that in the near future.

    The more concise and intelligent you can bring your point across, the better it will be listened and escalated. If you're not getting the time of day, its likely you are a grunt worker, and not a thinker. Sometimes you hire programmers because you have lots of work to do, but programmers are not equal and can be dead weight.

    1. We just use a wiki at our company or we use Mantis (bug/feature tracking database, both free). Someone starts a new topic, explains the feature, details. Other people comment on it. This helps prove whether a feature is doable or desirable before making a lot of noise. It really comes down to the quality of the feature/idea description for getting interest from co-workers. If the idea is worthy, I assign it to a developer to work on. If its not, I explain why (lack of resources, lack of interest, too complex, too costly, etc). I'm sure much larger corporations have expensive software to track that stuff across offices/branches.

    2. A lot of the time, people are wanting features or work done by someone else. Like in this example, a marketing plan wasn't being handled for him, but that wasn't his job. When your department is stretched, things fall through and of course other departments are going to say 'they need to be doing a better job'. When you jump the queue and another department starts dictating your priorities, it gets people mad, and that isn't inducing co-operation. Going through managers is how you get people to work on things you want them to. Going through proper channels allows a process to occur, without it being forced upon them by upper, upper managers who got accosted on his way out of the country to 'just get it done' without any long term improvement to the way things are done.

    3. A company is able to listen to employees and change priorities largely by how much money they have or by how big they are. When you have a 3 month cycle and there are thousands of employees, you need to keep the ship on schedule. If you are a small company that is agile and do not have lots of dependence on other departments, you're free to innovate more freely.

    "Most companies are bad at upward communication. A lot are good at top-to-bottom style communication, the kind the military invented, but very rarely is a company good at extracting insight from employees who know the company and its customers best,"

    This is usually from the attitude/ego of the suits, where you are expected to carry out their vision to be successful. SpeakUP is not going to change that unless its adopted with the CEO's blessing. It's a bit of a slap in the face, so I don't see the ones who truly need it being the ones who use it. For ones with really good ideas and how to execute them, they will get escalated and listened to.

    As for the second case mentioned in the article, where sales people do not have meetings and use CRM software to track customers and strengths and weaknesses, is mind blowing. I'm not in sales and would not like to, but just being in the same building as them you'll see them have meetings, save notes in SugarCRM (or any other CRM), strategize sales approaches.... Sounds fishy to me.

    It just sounds like poor middle management and not enough people willing to take responsibility for their group and function.
    02-16-15 09:57 PM
  22. RyanGermann's Avatar
    I dunno how anyone could really blame Thorsten or Chen with straight face.
    Thor's "people want the trackpad, but we're not going to do that" and "not one single line of code from BBOS" (i.e. "we are ashamed of our legacy") are two things I hold Thor accountable for and are directly responsible for the depth that BlackBerry sank to. If it is to be believed that Mike's "top down" attitude was part of the problem, then Thor exacerbated it by turning his back on what made BBOS popular for what it was, even if that WASN'T an exact replica of iOS.

    Somewhere between "BBOS must be eradicated from our collective memory" and "we should just keep building BBOS devices" is the right answer, and when customers asked for that compromise, a BB10 device that carried forward the best of the BBOS UX, Thor just basically said "even though you want that, no, we aren't going to do that."

    He gambled, BlackBerry lost, and the worst thing is that even Apple realizes that you sometimes succeed by giving customers what they want: after insisting they were NOT going to make a bigger iOS phone despite all the success of Android phablets, they go an produce one to great acclaim and market success (pent up demand notwithstanding: they still made BILLIONS on it).

    The way CrackBerry defends Thor is baffling.
    Bbnivende, JeepBB, ljfong and 1 others like this.
    02-16-15 10:08 PM
  23. LuvULongTime's Avatar
    Thor's "people want the trackpad, but we're not going to do that" and "not one single line of code from BBOS" (i.e. "we are ashamed of our legacy") are two things I hold Thor accountable for and are directly responsible for the depth that BlackBerry sank to. If it is to be believed that Mike's "top down" attitude was part of the problem, then Thor exacerbated it by turning his back on what made BBOS popular for what it was, even if that WASN'T an exact replica of iOS.

    Somewhere between "BBOS must be eradicated from our collective memory" and "we should just keep building BBOS devices" is the right answer, and when customers asked for that compromise, a BB10 device that carried forward the best of the BBOS UX, Thor just basically said "even though you want that, no, we aren't going to do that."

    He gambled, BlackBerry lost, and the worst thing is that even Apple realizes that you sometimes succeed by giving customers what they want: after insisting they were NOT going to make a bigger iOS phone despite all the success of Android phablets, they go an produce one to great acclaim and market success (pent up demand notwithstanding: they still made BILLIONS on it).

    The way CrackBerry defends Thor is baffling.
    Neither were responsible for the horrible plunge the company took. However both have made bad decisions when trying to dig the company out the mess they are in. So I do agree that in end to end picture they deserve some blame but also some credit. Heins was actually able to get BB10 to market when many thought the company would go bankrupt before it would ever happen. He definitely made a huge mistake with the HW (producing too much inventory, not producing a Bold successor, launching the Z10 first). Chen has done a good job overall trying to lessen BB's dependence on HW, however telling app developers to go Android was just incredibly stupid. And then there was the whole app neutrality argument. *****. Sigh...

    Funny how all the Android and iOS fans that come here and visit think we are all blind fanboys. Little do they realize that we are the companies harshest critics.
    02-16-15 10:31 PM
  24. RH1Pearl's Avatar
    Neither were responsible for the horrible plunge the company took. However both have made bad decisions when trying to dig the company out the mess they are in. So I do agree that in end to end picture they deserve some blame but also some credit. Heins was actually able to get BB10 to market when many thought the company would go bankrupt before it would ever happen. He definitely made a huge mistake with the HW (producing too much inventory, not producing a Bold successor, launching the Z10 first). Chen has done a good job overall trying to lessen BB's dependence on HW, however telling app developers to go Android was just incredibly stupid. And then there was the whole app neutrality argument. *****. Sigh...

    Funny how all the Android and iOS fans that come here and visit think we are all blind fanboys. Little do they realize that we are the companies harshest critics.
    The harshest critics leave the platform, not continue to buy their products
    02-16-15 11:12 PM
  25. Troy Tiscareno's Avatar
    BUT that wasn't the case. We have to live in the here and now. And in 2013 when bb10 launched, native devs already decided they were not going to touch the platform. BlackBerry never had, and never will have Microsoft's deep pockets to pay devs and wait it out. It was android apps, or no apps and close the doors on the company.
    Of course I agree - the issue is that the choice becomes two paths to the same destination, one direct path and one that meanders a bit before it gets there. BB has painted itself into a corner, and there's no real escape that keeps the handset business alive. BB has been running below Chen's own minimum threshold (10M phones per year) for several quarters already, and the board and the investors won't tolerate that indefinitely, especially as marketshare keeps shrinking. Remember that, with a growing market, even level sales aren't good enough - sales have to grow every quarter just to keep from falling behind. But BB has been falling behind, and while there are several reasons for that, the biggest one is simply a lack of consumer demand/interest, and apps/ecosystem is the single biggest reason for that.

    Normal consumers aren't going to sideload Snap, patch APKs, and track down older working versions of apps across several app stores. And as time goes on, you'll see more situations like SnapChat, where "alternatives" are locked out for various reasons, and current official versions of apps won't run. And that's happening on an individual developer level. Imagine what would happen to BB10 if Google decided to aggressively enforce the Play Store TOS and blocked apps like Snap, or even worse, made Google Services a requirement for all Play Store apps? Even among the ardent BB fanbase, few would be willing to stick with BB10 if they didn't have access to Play Store apps.

    Sooner or later, the hassles of keeping apps functioning, or not having access to certain apps at all, will drive users to other OSs. Hell, that's already been happening for years, and BB is still losing more users per year than they're gaining - that's reflected in marketshare percentages. That can't go on for much longer before even low-volume hardware production and development becomes financially untenable.

    IMO, the race is to see if BB can get their software and services generating enough revenues before the bottom falls completely out on BB hardware, and even that is far from assured today.
    02-16-15 11:22 PM
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