Morning Coffee Feb 22 2012

The Rise and Fall of Research In Motion

By joseph walker

It's now clear that Research In Motion's descent from technological bellwether to technological backwater started with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. RIM executives didn't see at the time that their BlackBerry smartphone, which had gained wide popularity for its secure email service, could be displaced by a $500 phone with no keyboard or cachet with consumers. Then Apple went on to sell over a hundred million iPhones, helping the company become one of the most valuable in the world.

Meanwhile, a once proud RIM became a laughing stock. The company's market capitalization declined by 75% last year. When RIM's long-time leaders, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, stepped down last month, the only question was whether it was too late for its new chief executive, Thorsten Heins, to salvage the company. A new report in The Verge details RIM's spectacular rise and fall, reviewing how Lazaridis founded the company while still an engineering student at the University of Waterloo, then tracing his career to an embarassing interview with the BBC last spring.

The story of the company's missteps is a warning to anyone who works in technology. The company you work for can just as easily get caught behind the curve and end up floundering in the same way. RIM has already laid off 2,000 employees and work has dried up for those who remain. It's "like the Soviet Union. Everyone's pretending to work," says Alastair Sweeny, author of "BlackBerry Planet: The Story of Research In Motion and the Little Device that Took the World by Storm." (The Verge)

Transparency (WSJ)

A new study finds that your Facebook profile is a window into your employee soul. Researchers rated the dependability and emotional stability of 56 college students based on their Facebook pages, and found that their conclusions matched independent employer evaluations the students received.

Downsizing (Reuters)

Troubled telecommunications start-up LightSquared says it will lay off 45% of its 330 employees. The company's bid to enter the wireless broadband market received a massive blow from regulators who say it would interfere with GPS technology already in place.

Laughs (The Verge)

Microsoft continues its spate of disparaging YouTube videos about competitor Google. This one takes aim at Google Apps, the suite of email and word-processing services that Google sells.

Job Swap (WSJ)

Intel allows its employees to take temporary assignments, from a few weeks to a year, in departments other than their own. The company does it to help employees hone their skills, get re-motivated and spur collaboration across different departments.

Smartglasses (Bits)

Google will begin selling its own eyeglasses by the end of the year, according to a report. Rather than improve your vision, the $250 to $600 glasses will display information about the images you're seeing directly to your eyes.

Fresh Out (WSJ)

The world's most notorious Internet villain, Kim Dotcom, has been released on bail as he awaits word on whether he'll be extradited to the U.S. to face copyright infringement charges. Dotcom will not be allowed to use his helicopter or access the Internet at his home while out on bail.

Glorious Future (WSJ)

The digital revolution has changed the world, but the biggest transformations are yet to come, a new book argues. Technology will provide solutions for overpopulation, water shortages and educating the masses, the authors write.

Cut Down (AllThingsD)

Critics of executive pay packages may be pleased to know that AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson has had his bonus cut by $2 million because of his failure to get the company's T-Mobile merger approved. Stephenson will still earn $22 million for the year, though.

Get Paid, Again (Seattle Times)

Veterans of PayPal, including LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, are set to reap hundreds of millions this year from their investments in companies like Facebook and Yelp that are set to go public.

Blind Boxing (YouTube)

These guys could use a little help from Obi-Wan Kenobi.

List of the Day: Juggling Jobs

Balancing more than one job takes careful consideration.

1. Read all employee handbooks and pay attention to the rules about outside activities.

2. Consider any ethical or professional dilemmas in wearing more than one hat.

3. Assuming everything is clear, find a business card that encapsulates all of your roles.


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