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Alan Brenner, RIM's Senior Vice President and Alistair Mitchell, Vice President of BlackBerry Messenger depart from RIM

By Jared DiPane on 6 Apr 2012 05:08 pm EDT
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Alan Brenner

We have seen quite a number of top level changes happening at RIM recently, from the new CEO Thorsten Heins, to the departure of Jim Balsillie, and we have two more to add to that. RIM has confirmed to Bloomberg that Alan Brenner, RIM's Senior Vice President, and Alistair Mitchell, Vice President of BlackBerry Messenger will be departing from their jobs at RIM. After reporting their recent earnings information, and being open to possible purchasing, it appears as though not everyone at RIM is on board with the plan.

The loss of these two execs opens the door to some fresh blood, some hungry individuals who are on board with RIM's plans to turn things around and regain what they have lost.

Source: Bloomberg 

Reader comments

Alan Brenner, RIM's Senior Vice President and Alistair Mitchell, Vice President of BlackBerry Messenger depart from RIM

85 Comments

First comment! Yay!

But seriously, hope all these moves by Mr. Heins is meant to get things moving and hire some eager talent that wants to get in. I hope these are not moves by execs who want to simply bail out while they can still cash out. I hope they aren't sucking too much money out of the company. As a shareholder I want to see my money being used for the good of the company, not for overly-expensive buyouts.

Get BBM on all platforms with advertising for non BB phones. It'll make more money and keep blackberry on everyone's mind.

I was against this at first but I have to agree with you, advertising their phones on competitor devices is genius. As great as BBM is, it is not relevant when most of your contacts dont have a blackberry plus new competing messaging apps are popping up.

Yes, and BBM is even losing it's value on Blackberry Phones because there are less and less of your friends/contacts that use it.

RIM needs to focus more on services than handsets (yes they need good handsets)but rather than have handsets drive people to RIM services, let BBM do that. Once people have BBM on their phones leaverage it to sell other services. Blackberry Travel is great, for example.

Also don't you think RIM could have cut a better deal with record companies for BBM music if they had 150 million users on BBM rather than 70 or so million? I think RIM could make BBM music a competitor to spotify if they could get on other platforms. What's the advantage of BBM Music over spotify? Well one feature could be to send a song to your BBM music contact, you might do this on their birthday, when they are feeling a little down or to celebrate. I think the service with features like that could be sold to users on other platforms. Or use advertising to gain revenues.

Don't just let BBM die.

Can you give me a good example why a Android or iPhone user should use BBM instead of the other messaging apps floating around?

I've tried others but they don't work as well. BBM still has brand power over smaller ones like Kik. RIM's ownership of it's own network should allow them to do things other messenger services can't. I could go on but if you were implying BBM can't be competitive you are just flat wrong.

So let's say you have an iPhone owner which uses of course the built-in iMessage for his iPhone contacts and Whatsapp for the others who have an Android or Windows phone. So what do you tell him to convince him to replace Whatsapp with BBM?

Don't be so sure... I think RIM will hire new really old "experienced" people who probably don't even know what is a smartphone to replace these departures.

OK, this one stings a bit. All the other moves looked like they were opening space for the new talent and maybe getting rid of some of the tired old guard, but one name I was hoping NOT to see was Allen Brenner. He is the genius behind BBM. This looks a bit more like the loss of heart and soul of the company. Ouch.

Sent from my BlackBerry Playbook

I love how that phrase is coded into the word suggestions so four button pushes is all I need!

I don't understand why people seemed to like Brenner, but then again, I don't like a lot of the RIM leadership and think there should have been a wake up call made long ago.

They all saw the onslaught from Apple and Google coming from miles away. They couldn't launch an effective response.

If they didn't see it coming, then they were bigger fools than I give them credit for, because everyone else saw it coming.

How did RIM end up where it is today? It's been "too little, too late" over and over again for the last 5 years.

I don't like Thorstein for this same reason - he contributed to a part of the problem.

The problem is, after these guys are gone, who's there to replace them? Who's left that's got the vision, talent, drive, power to motivate?

I agree he may have been the heart and soul of BBM but now we need someone that can look beyond their baby. Make a cross platform messenger and have good knowledge of IOS and Android

If I can get BBM on another platform, why would I buy a BlackBerry?

I understand why people want cross platform BBM, but the day RIM permits it, they'll cease to be a hardware company.

The problem is that RIM can not remain simply a mobile device manufacturer. They are competing with Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, LG, etc. These companies are in other markets, they can afford to make a loss in the mobile space and still continue.

At the end of the day, they have to survive and if they means that they have to kill their hardware business to protect the overall business, that is what they have to do. The thing is, people have a poor opinion of RIM's ability to make quality software. But think about it, BlackBerry is not the device but the software and the services that back the devices. So if they can extend their software and services to each platform, it wouldn't matter whether or not they have a large marketshare.

BBM is awesome and you can tell somebody in charge of the BBM platform got a little to comfy with how BBM remained. BBM has not changed really in 2 years. Nothing exciting as far as BIG updates rolled out.

OK!!! I NOMINATE (((( KEVIN MICHALUK )))) TO BE THE SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT...... WHO'S WITH ME..????!!!!!!

Are you kidding me ???? Kevin can't even run this site, never mind RIM.

Have you looked at the forums lately ? The trolls run the site now, while Kevin sits back and watches :/

Talk about a sinking ship

Please tell me this a strategic move to improve things. I get nervous as each day goes by thinking im going to forced to use an iPhone or Android.

Judging by how long it's taking to get BBM on the PlayBook, I'm not surprised to see this at all. RIM needs management who can get things done!

RIM announced previously we would not get BBM on the PlayBook until after the BB10 phones are released. I believe that's on purpose so folks who are staying on BB7 phones for BBM don't get it natively on PlayBook and don't need the phone anymore.

When you find yourself aboard a sinking ship, it is time to head for the lifeboats. That's what's happening here.

What could someone think when seeing the most senior leaving RIM? Is there any room for optimism here? They probably know something we don't and they didn't agree with it. They probably know how the story ends.

I think they were asked to leave. Accountability enforcement seems to be the order of the day at rim. Get it done or get out of the way.

What talented young engineer/programmer would work for RIM? There are so many new companies out there that aren't tied down with decades of bureaucracy.

What is they start charging non bb phones the ability to use bbm? Say $5 a month, you think people will pay for it?

I got my son a 9900 this week. i have an iphone and we were talking about bbm on other platforms and what people would be willing to pay. I think if it was added to the carrier bill it might fly at $5mth but I don't know if that would be possible on other manufacturers platforms.

It would be good to have a BBM lite app after the BB10 phones are out. I am waiting for the new BB10 PHONES.

Skype has an exclusive hold on it with the two carriers, so until that hold expires, that'll be forever. Rim isn't to blame here. Same with netflix, they need to be petitioned to do the same thing. Top apps, the developers need to be encouraged to do so, to get it onto the blackberry platform.

I agree. They need the big apps onboard at launch of bb10 or earlier for playbook to get that issue out of the way.

Spend a 100 million on the top 100 apps and that's it.

It seems like there dancing around as if they have all the time in the world to get this done. I put off my phone upgrade from last fall while waiting for bb10 but if I can't replace my bloomberg news app, and cnbc live (the only two essential iphone apps I use) then I can't switch and I'm pissed.

"The loss of these two execs opens the door to some fresh blood, some hungry individuals who are on board with RIM's plans to turn things around and regain what they have lost.

or

They see their jobs going bye bye from a purchase of RIM.

or

They wanted to take BBM multi-platform and the boss didnt like that idea

or

They didn't want to make BBM multi-platform and the boss didnt like that idea.

or

They sublet their office space to Samsung or Sponge Bob.

Who knows and they aint saying..

Tim

My doubts on that one. You said BBM on multiple platforms twice. Not happening, rim hasn't mentioned that at all. Neither is it with the company being bought out.

They could be making room for some interested parties staff. Such as sammy, HTC or Microsoft. I hope.

But hiring new people is good. Likely it was a personal choice. Some people need career changes, some probably don't spend enough time with their family or friends or are too busy for anything and need a change, some want to start a family.

Fresh talent? Hehe...more co-ops?

Kidding althought there are a boatload of co-ops working at RIM.

They are the largest University of Waterloo co-op employer in the country i believe ... one of RIM's strengths has always been to tap in to that exceptional tech talent at University of Waterloo .....

People its I'm very sad to report that the new guy who just took over said that selling RIM is not off the table. They may try a merger of some sort but a sale is not out the picture. I just got a news report on my blackberry a short while ago. Check yours if you have the news app installed. I just bought this phone and I am very sad to hear about this. I may try to see if I can buy a playbook but even then I think it may be too late. The shares have tumbled 70% and so I don't know what any of us can do short of buying the company ourselves.

Interviews are highly manipulated. My house is not for sale. However, if you offer the right amount of money, it might be. Not exactly the same thing, but you get the point.

Rim needs to have wardrobe requirements when execs are making presentations. This guy looks atrocious and unprofessional. If they want to project a better image its the little things.

Alec Saunders said 'good software takes time' when asked about when BBM is going to be available on Playbook. Most likely when BB10 becomes available for PB. You can expect BBM to have some new features are well as new look once BB10 hits. It's one of Blackberry's best features, there is no way it would get dropped.

I predict that when new BBM hits, it will have text chat, voice over data/wifi (like walkie-talkie) and video chat all integrated as options with how you want to communicate with the other person. Similar to how Skype or Google Talk lets you do either text only, voice and video (or combination).

That's good software and it will take time, but it is going to have to happen to differentiate RIM. These different contact methods need to be integrated under one messenger app.

RIM needs to streamline the "work flow" process to get things done on time. Part of that means to take the guys out of the corner offices who are living off a different era. Good going, RIM!

In addition to Thorsten, the face of RIM has quickly become guys like Alec Saunders and Dan Dodge. In other words, guys who have very little connection to RIMs past. This is very important given the transition that is in process. Although these execs, like others in the past few months who have left, have done great things in the past to build the platform, they have no role to play in the development of QNX. And More importantly if you asked the average person on the street how many VPs they thought RIM had, I am sure the number wouldn't be greater than 5 - so clearly RIM needs to thin out the ranks at the top to make sure decisions are made quicker and execution is highly efficient. If these executives leaving were the only thing we were hearing about I would be concerned, but instead they are being announced alongside ever increasing roles for Saunders and Dodge, which is highly positive. The only thing that would make me even more excited is hearing that all creative decision making has coalesced around the TAT guys.

It will be difficult to get the " new young blood" to RIM. They will instead go to Apple or Samsung.
Who wants to start working on a sinking ship?

Many would jump at the chance, most at entry-level pay and so that would benefit RIM greatly but their biggest hurdle is putting boots on the ground in the stores to market their products. True they need a bit of tweaking but what store such as Sprint or Verizon is going to allow a rep in to steer a customer from an android?
They could put boots on the ground in business areas around the country so they could do door to door.
They may have some luck at Walmart or shopping malls but they need to get an army on the ground and in those dealers so they can get their rep back bottom line.

I agree with you on Apple part, but Samsung? Why will a creative and motivated software engineer go to Samsung. Samsung is not writing any OS, they just take Android from Google and do some minor aesthetic changes to it. Even when compared to Apple, I believe working at RIM will be more exciting at this point as they are writing core protocol stacks, GUI, security layer and all other OS modules bottom-up - you don't get chance to write such code and basic functionality from scratch in most of the companies most of the time, reason being that Companies do not bring up a major commercial mobile platform daily. It is a golden time for an executioner to be in RIM and create things, not just do some small tweaking (mostly if you work for Samsung) or bug fixes with iterative development on existing platform and framework (mostly a case for an Apple employee).

I don't think BBM can work on other platforms. It is PIN dependent. If the make it available somehow, it will not be "real" BBM, but be able to somehow send messages through a server somewhere so that people on the PIN network can get them and send them back.

When you are adding people to bbm you have option of adding them through the email. They could set it up to work that way if they went cross-platform

Yesterday i read german connect Magazin...After reading that the Motorola Pro+ compare to bold 9790 and curve 9360 and curve 9380. For Thema have the better performance... Im a big bb fan but. If i read this i think what the hell this bb Team doing. Day by Day???????? Before if you tell you have a blackberry people tell me, o yes best. Battery life. O cool is this the phone i saw on mtv..or. The. Girls. Tell yes the one phone of Paris Hilton. Etc, we. Need commercial. In cool magazin. With cool young Stars etc..and TV commercial....... But number one rim needs to Work together more with ios and android...... But number one once again...if bbm is install. Have to be the Same for everyone around the World..... If i download appstore From Apple store. The app is working in Zürich, singapore or Rom....ifi try to download apps. From appworld then i cant download in Zurich but in Rom and not. In singapore........... Do you understand. Now Why people. Move to. Apple. Or Samsung!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry for my english.....:-)

If these people are leaving on their own, they need to understand that it is the right time for a tech guy to be in RIM.

Someone said that a techie will better go to Samsung or Apple.

But I ask why will a creative and motivated software engineer go to Samsung. Samsung is not writing any OS, they just take Android from Google and do some minor aesthetic changes to it.

Even when compared to Apple, I believe working at RIM will be more exciting at this point as they are writing core protocol stacks, GUI, security layer and all other OS modules bottom-up - you don't get chance to write such code and basic functionality from scratch in most of the companies most of the time, reason being that Companies do not bring up a major commercial mobile platform daily. It is a golden time for an executioner to be in RIM and create things, not just do some small tweaking (mostly if you work for Samsung) or bug fixes with iterative development on existing platform and framework (mostly a case for an Apple employee).

We wish you luck in your future endeavors - now to go about implementing BBM on android and iOS...

Then when bb10 arrives regain market share with the superior blackberry communication experience we all love and a more integrated, feature rich version of BBM..