Smartphone transition is where tech companies go to die, says RIM CEO Balsille

PlayBook marks the fightback

Smartphone transition is where tech companies go to die, says RIM CEO Balsille
It might sound churlish, but RIM co-CEO Mike Laziridis' call for critics to recognise the company's successes comes with a pertinent point.

Laziridis made the statement in an interview with the New York Times, claiming that people are all too keen to focus on the negative – in particular, BlackBerry's loss of share in the smartphone market to rivals iOS and Android.

In his view, however, the last few years at RIM have been the opposite of  doom and gloom; not that analysts and the press will call it. 

Going global

"Why is it that people don’t appreciate our growth?" he said.

"Why is it that people don't appreciate the fact that we spent the last four years going global? Why is it that people don't appreciate that we have 500 carriers in 170 countries with products in almost 30 languages?"

Lazaridis view was been backed up by RIM's other co-CEO Jim Balsillie, who added that RIM's transition post-iPhone comes in an environment where such wide scale change can be killer.

"No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform," he said.

"It's almost never done, and it's way harder than you realise. This transition is where tech companies go to die."

In other words, iOS and Android represented fresh efforts. For the companies that offered up smartphone platforms before iPhone launched in 2007 – Microsoft, Palm, Nokia – transition has not been so easy.

His argument is for RIM to come out the other side and still in the game is an achievement.

Moving forward

Balsillie also believes the press should realise you don't have to be number one in the smartphone market to still be valid and, most importantly, profitable.

"To be pretty blunt about this: how many people in the world have computing devices in phones, and how many do we have to sell to ensure that we're a rip-roaring success over the next five years?" he concluded.

"You'll find that you don’t have to be all things to all people."

The first test of that approach will come with the April 19 release of the company's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. 

[source: New York Times]

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.