Earlier this week I expressed some frustrations with how RIM's executive team was communicating during its media blitz and offered some constructive criticism.
The gist of my post was that RIM's executives need to have well-rehearsed, consistent and powerful messages to communicate when doing media interviews. They should be prepped to know what is most likely to be asked, and be ready to pounce with an incredibly polished answer.
On Friday, Thorsten Heins provided answers to the top 10 questions that Globe and Mail readers asked in response to his op-ed article from earlier in the week. If you haven't read his answers yet, you should go do that.
I read his answers on Friday afternoon on my BlackBerry from up at the cottage. Perfect weather, perfect temperature ... and a perfect set of answers from RIM's CEO. I felt that Thorsten's answers were extremely well written and obviously had some thought put into them.
Some CrackBerry readers have commented that these were softball questions. I don't think they were. They were relevant questions to the consuming public. They directly address the weaknesses at RIM. The answers he gave are the messages that RIM needs the media to disseminate to the public.
This is the kind of RIM communication that I'd like to see going forward!
To the RIM communications team, I highly suggest you get a CEO blog going ASAP. You need to control your message, and it is much easier to do this when you publish it directly. It is also much easier to clean up other people's messes (remember the brutal NYT article from BlackBerry World?)
Looking at Thorsten's replies to questions, here are some of my observations:
He made a bold statement about what will make BlackBerry 10 competitive. Specifically, he wrote, "BlackBerry 10 will be the only mobile platform built from the ground up with the latest technologies in mind." While he wasn't specific about any features or capabilities in his reply, it does suggest RIM is taking a strong tone regarding the premium nature of this OS.
He's taking ownership of the BB10 delay. He clearly stated that the decision to delay BB10 was his decision, because he wasn't totally happy with the integration everything yet. He could "still see some of the seams". It may or may not be true. But it's the right message to put out there. It's a strong message of CEO control over quality.
He said enough to bury the silly rumours that RIM is about to ditch BB10 in favor of Android or Windows 8.. It doesn't get much more clear than this quote from Thorsten: "We have considered a range of options that included adopting someone else's operating system, but ultimately we rejected that idea."
He promised support for BB7 well into the future. Considering how many people in the developing world are just starting to make the shift towards their first smartphone, BB7 matters to RIM. It matters a lot. It's important for them to go after that market hard with the BB7 powered Bold and Curve. Average selling prices (ASP) will decline, yes. But RIM needs to have an entry level product to onboard people into the world of BBM and all things BlackBerry.
He made a strong commitment to deliver BB10 on his promised timeline. Remember that Thorsten did not originally promise BB10 would come out in late 2012. That was Mike and Jim's doing. The Q1 2013 promise is Thorsten's first timeline promise. He says, "I am absolutely committed to this timeline, Joe. I made the decision to give our teams more time on BlackBerry 10 because I believe we must deliver an experience that is nothing short of exceptional to our users." That makes him 100% accountable now. But he sure seems committed, and he's putting the right message out there.