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
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

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) 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

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

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
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

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

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, 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
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,960.57 -123.23 -0.72%
S&P 500 1,978.34 -9.64 -0.48%
NASDAQ 4,449.5640 -22.5440 -0.50%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs