RIM Struggles to Boost BlackBerry's Image, as New York Times Kills App

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 07-26-2012 Print Email
The New York Times has stopped support for its BlackBerry app, saying it needs to consolidate its efforts elsewhere. Meanwhile, RIM execs are doing all they can to keep morale and brand image boosted.

The New York Times stopped supporting its app for BlackBerry, as well as its DealBook BlackBerry Reader, July 23. Adding insult to injury, the newspaper added its very brief announcement that it was also stopping support for its app for Palm Pre a device most consider to be long dead.

"We've made the decision to consolidate our efforts and concentrate on delivering you the best possible experience through our mobile site," the Times offered as explanation. It added--arguably more consolation than explanation--that BlackBerry owners can just turn to their browsers, as the Times' mobile Website offers "a more complete New York Times experience than the NYTimes app native to your device."

RIM, which reported a $518 million loss during its second quarter and is in the process of laying off 5,000 workers, has been accused of being "in a death spiral" and "at death's door" accusations that RIM CEO Thorsten Heins and other executives have been on an assertive campaign to quash. Heins said on a Canadian radio program that he "feels positive" the company will successfully emerge from its current "transition."

RIM's senior vice president of enterprise software, Peter Devenyi, likewise told eWEEK, "There's tremendous confidence that exists within RIM that we will succeed in getting through this transition." He added that BlackBerry 10, the new platform RIM is counting on to turn things around, is "fantastic," and that RIM has a "world class" design team working on its upcoming devices.

Describing developer support for BB10, which during the company's earnings call Heins announced was being delayed until the first quarter of 2013, Martyn Mallick, RIM vice president of global alliances and business development, told eWEEK it has been "absolutely phenomenal," and that the response to its BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour has been "incredibly positive."

The latest executive to stump for the company--which certainly is smart to do all it can to sustain its brand and brand image through the long slog between midsummer and early 2013--is CIO Robin Bienfait, who joined the company five years ago, after more than two decades with AT&T.

In a July 24 Q&A on the RIM Inside BlackBerry for Business Blog, Bienfait worked to address "customer concerns directly."

In response to a question about whether RIM will still be standing by late winter, Bienfait answered:

"All companies need to go through changes in their evolution and it is our turn right now. Thorsten is making a lot of changes to ensure the company is addressing its challenges to give our customers the comfort that the company is not standing still and will be here to meet their needs. I think it's important to look closely at the position that our business is in: We have $2.2 billion of cash in the bank, zero debt, are bringing in seasoned industry leaders who understand BlackBerry customers, are reducing costs in non-core areas, and investing in a plan to radically shift the company and the technology. I'm confident that we're well positioned. What's important is that we have a clear direction, are pivoting rapidly, and are absolutely committed to achieving these goals."

When asked whether RIM might be bought or split, Bienfait said that strategic partnerships "have always been a part of RIM's business model." She also discussed the layoffs, which are not expected to affect customer service at all, and ensured enterprises that RIM remains "the clear choice for customers at this time. No one else has RIM's track record of protecting enterprise data."



 

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