Former RIM Boss Sought Strategy Shift Before He Quit

As reported by Reuters:

[Jim] Balsillie [former co-CEO and co-Chariman] hoped to allow major wireless companies in North America and Europe to provide service for non-BlackBerry devices routed through RIM’s proprietary network, a major break with the BlackBerry-only strategy pursued by RIM since its inception.

The plan would have let the carriers use the RIM network to offer inexpensive data plans, limited to social media and instant messaging, to entice low-tier customers to upgrade from no-frills phones to smartphones.

I find this very interesting. Obviously the “hardware” portion of the company won out and maybe that was the right choice. We will know for certain in the next few years. But what an interesting turn of events this would have been.

Part of what I find amusing about this report is that RIM has never been able to, in my mind, take advantage of this carrier relationship in the past to do what Balsillie is advocating now, even when he was CEO and had control over the strategic direction. RIM always had two different systems in place. The first, called BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES), was aimed at corporations, making it possible for them to sync Exchange and Lotus Notes calendars and contacts all over the place and allowed IT departments to control devices. The second was BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), which is the piece sold through the carriers.

I always found BIS to be weak. Yes, it handled BlackBerry Messenger but I always thought it should do what iCloud does, sync individual’s contacts and calendars across devices, but do it across all devices and all carriers. I think that ship has sailed.

RIM continues to fascinate me like Apple did a decade and a half ago. It feels like a company with promise that just needs to find its way.