Research In Motion interview: Andrew MacLeod

Research In Motion’s latest version of its BlackBerry smartphone marks the Canadian manufacturer’s make or break moment

Thorsten Heins, the president and CEO of Research In Motion, the Canada-based manufacturer

Thorsten Heins, the president and CEO of Research In Motion, the Canada-based manufacturer

Inside RIM building 8 sits a glass showcase featuring row upon row of old, bestselling BlackBerry smartphones and a three-year-old award that lauds the phones’ creator – Research in Motion – as “company of the year.” This manufacturing centre also houses guards who scrutinise visitor credentials and oversee an airport security-like area, where incomers must leave all of their electronic devices and any recording equipment. Even then, few people typically get clearance to this stage, let alone through a subsequent set of gates to see what the latest BlackBerrys look like behind closed doors.

RIM Building 8 is just one of the many sites sprinkled throughout Waterloo, Canada, where RIM’s shrunken employee base is desperately trying to create the next bestselling smartphone and survive a mobile era now dominated with software and handsets from Apple, Samsung and, increasingly, Google. On January 30, RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 software and phones will be unveiled in a global event that even senior executives at the company acknowledge will be a make-or-break moment.

“Failure is not an option,” Andrew MacLeod, managing director for RIM in Canada, says, in an exclusive interview with Arabian Business. “Our space is defined by innovation. It’s defined by competition,” MacLeod adds. “The good news, from our perspective, is we’re really bringing something special.”

RIM’s shareholders are certainly banking on hopes that this rings true in the marketplace. Once the tech titan of the smartphone sector, RIM’s stock slumped below (Canadian) $7 a share in 2012, down from a peak of more than $148 in 2008. At the same time, a growing number of businesses and organisations have announced plans to ditch the BlackBerry and embrace competing handsets. And, in December, RIM got yanked from a list of companies that make up the NASDAQ-100 index.

Yet there have been some recent signs of optimism as well. Some tech analysts have been upbeat about RIM’s prospects, at least for the short term, and takeover rumours have helped boost confidence among some investors. The company also boasts a loyal, albeit shrinking, fan base of customers who are eagerly awaiting a new device. “I purchased my first BlackBerry in 2006, and have had three BlackBerrys so far, and am just about to buy my fourth,” says Claire Mockridge, a postnatal fitness expert from Derbyshire, England.

One of RIM’s strongest markets in the world is the Middle East. More than double the number of subscribers from the region signed up for BlackBerry service through May of 2012, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the company. “Middle East has been, really, a key region,” says Mike Al Mefleh, director of product and platforms for RIM Middle East. “We are contributing in a big way to the success of the BlackBerry.”

RIM plans to focus even more attention on expanding its presence within the Middle East. Dubai, in fact, is set to be one of just a handful of cities that will host parallel events during the new BlackBerry software and handsets unveil at the end of January. The decision has local retail executives hoping the buzz will generate a surge in BlackBerry sales among all customer segments – and not just busy business types. Nadeem Khanzadah, head of retail for Jumbo Electronics, says the forthcoming BlackBerry 10 devices “look promising in terms of sales.”

Article continued on next page

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Posted by: neighbour

Hope it will be reasonably priced and have trade in offer.
Hope there is a upgrade in the service too.
how about concierge service?. that would be tempting.

Posted by: blackenedbyberry

All the best Engineer.
But since I live in a country where hand gestures (however non suggestive)are generally construed as lewd and insulting and invite incarceration- i would proceed with caution -
Maybe you should work on winking and squinting - in morse code fashion - or how about wiggling the ears in succession.
I dont think will invite unwanted attention, since the society seem to accommodate- individuals who froth over their bluetooth ear pieces and puncture all the ear drums in the vicinity, with aplomb.
Go tiger!

Posted by: dave hargraves (designer of smartphone tech)

well the mail in rebate is a bad move, what would be the reasoning for that? the hopes that comsumers would forget? why are you guys charging?, when iphone is not. mind you i do like the idea that your new blackberry has the FM tuner feature. but nevertheless you new blackberry curve is not new. what i mean by this is that type of phone is already in the market place and who are you going to sell to,when everyone has a phone already? but however if you guys are interested in the true next generation smartphone, that would make apple and android driven devices look like they came from the stone age, lets make this happen. imagine no need for voice activated gestures, use of the keyboard or touch screen would be reduced to a minimum, due to new technologies in gesturing i have developed. Rim if your interested in adopting this new technology lets get at it. i must be invited to present and applicable conditions must be met, sorry its either my way or the highway. regards, Freelance Eng.

Posted by: SPP

To the editors,
I think you got the title wrong. Where is the interview???

Posted by: Sudi

Hey Hisham, you need to get out more if that was one of the best moments of your life.

Posted by: Ashwin

RIM might have faltered along the way and committed some glaring blunders but there is no reason why BB10 will not succeed. The iFanboys can hoot and holler all they want, but I still like the fact that a 'Bluetooth' enabled device means you can actually connect to other 'Bluetooth' devices, plugging a phone to a computer instantly detects it as a USB drive for easy file transfer, an instant messenger service that is still leagues ahead of what is currently bandied about. Oh yes and all that while, I am not 'tethered' or 'imprisoned' to a proprietary software ecosystem for file transfer and mandatory file conversions.

Thanks. Here's hoping the BB10 silences critics and armchair techno dodos.

Posted by: kingkaiser

Is it just me or did this 3 page " exclusive interview" with Andrew MacLeod contain literally only 3 lines from him? Perhaps I'm missing some text....

On to the article itself - I really wonder if its possible for BB to play catch up anymore. Only if it opens up its ecosystem in a meaningful way and can present apps as compelling as those on iOS and Android will it be able to survive as a competitor. Its previous attempt at creating an app store was laughable at best - heres hoping round 2 works out better for them. More competition is always better.

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