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While pundits have been quick to lay the blame for Research in Motion’s problems at the feet of its co-founders, a new report reveals that one of them actually attempted “a radical shift in strategy” before throwing his hands in the air and walking away.
Reuters is reporting that former co-CEO Jim Balsillie actually pushed for Research in Motion to follow a new course of action prior to stepping down from the company he helped to found, according to two sources close to the company.
“Balsillie hoped to allow major wireless companies in North America and Europe to provide service for non-BlackBerry devices routed through RIM's proprietary network, a major break with the BlackBerry-only strategy pursued by RIM since its inception,” the report reveals. “The plan would have let the carriers use the RIM network to offer inexpensive data plans, limited to social media and instant messaging, to entice low-tier customers to upgrade from no-frills phones to smartphones.”
Such a move was widely rumored in recent months, but quickly denied by RIM. Critics of the BlackBerry maker have been quick to throw blame for the company’s lack of recent innovation in co-founder Balsillie’s direction, shared equally with Mike Lazaridis. The new report seems to indicate that the company’s new management -- which still includes Lazaridis -- may have been resistant to change, instead pinning their hopes on BlackBerry 10 handsets set to arrive later this year.
“Balsillie's plan may have heralded a broader strategic move by RIM to define its high-margin network services -- which bring in around $1 billion a quarter -- as a business that's distinct from building and marketing the BlackBerry,” the report adds. “That hardware business may have lost money last year.”
Balsillie reportedly held discussions about this proposed new strategy with AT&T and Verizon in the U.S., as well as Vodafone, T-Mobile, Telefonica and France Telecom in Europe. “At least one major Canadian carrier” was also citied in the report.
The co-founder may have cut ties with Research in Motion after stepping down from as a board director recently, but Balsillie continues to be one of the company’s largest shareholders with a five percent stake in RIM.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
(Image courtesy of Reuters)