This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

RIM Needs to Hire a Visionary

NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- In 2011, we witnessed two of the greatest non-dot-com stock implosions of all time.

It seemed that throughout the year, particularly in the second half of it, Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) and Research In Motion (RIMM) battled for the title of most pathetic.

As much as Reed Hastings stumbled his way through the last six months of 2011 -- and as many problems as Netflix has -- he looked like a reincarnation of Steve Jobs compared with former RIM CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. (If Hasting had tried to bring an NHL franchise to Silicon Valley -- wait, it already has one -- I would have said they were all even.)

Step into 2012, and RIM made the type of management changes Netflix seemingly refuses to consider. It orchestrated a considerable shakeup.

The company essentially moved in stages, making leading statements and incremental moves to see whether it could quiet the media and activist shareholders.

When a little board tinkering did not work, RIM finally ousted the co-CEOs and promoted Thorsten Heins to the role. After shock wore off that one man can actually run RIM, I thought about comparisons between the Canadian company and Netflix a bit more.

Netflix has a visionary as CEO. RIM did not and does not. I don't think I will get much argument on Heins, but RIMM permabulls will certainly argue that Balsillie was a visionary.

"Was" is the operative word. While Balsillie deserves responsibility for turning BlackBerry into CrackBerry, shareholders rightfully heap scorn on him for for falling asleep at the Zamboni and reversing this success. Just consider some of the things Balsillie said as Apple (AAPL) was about to eat his company's lunch:
"For those of us who live outside of Apple's distortion field, we know that 7-inch tablets will actually be a big portion of the market and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience. We also know that while Apple's attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash. We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple ...
"As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story."
- Jim Balsillie, October 2010, from a statement published in Barron's
"You don't need an app for the Web. I don't need a YouTube app to go to YouTube. There's this view that Web sites need to be repurposed for mobile and you need a special set of tools to do it. We don't believe that to be true."
- Jim Balsillie, November 2010, as quoted in All Things D

Incredible. It really does not get much worse than that. And to think a considerable number of RIMM bulls defended Balsillie all of last year. Some still do.

So RIM essentially blows out a couple of nonvisionaries and hires another nonvisionary from within. His grand plan, as Richard Saintvilus points out, is to focus on the low-end mobile market. Although I understand why Richard thinks this is a smart approach, frankly, I am tired of everybody in tech doing either the same or thoroughly boring things.
1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
NFLX $90.03 0.00%
AAPL $93.74 0.00%
FB $117.58 0.00%
GOOG $693.01 0.00%
TSLA $240.76 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,773.64 -57.12 -0.32%
S&P 500 2,065.30 -10.51 -0.51%
NASDAQ 4,775.3580 -29.9330 -0.62%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs