Throwing in the towel on my RIM shares part 3
Once or twice a year something comes up that warrants what I’ll call a “guest post”. Of the hundreds of comments on my original and follow-up RIM posts (see prior post “Throwing in the towel on my RIM shares part 2” June 26-13), both here and at Seeking Alpha, this one deserves a read by both the BlackBerry (BB:TSX, BBRY:Q) Bulls and Bears, not to mention the tens of millions of customers who are scratching their heads about why the Q10, in many ways, isn’t as good as the Bold 9900.
The blog commenter goes by “Agent Smith”, but he/she sounds like the real deal to me, and if anyone had even a passing interest in my earlier posts, you definitely will want to read this. I know it is just one view from one of the thousands of former members of the RIM team, but that doesn’t undercut the sentiment and remarkable anecdotes one iota:
I worked at RIM for 7.5 years and sadly resigned my post this past February. Basically, I’m one of those propeller-head techies who lives deep in the trenches. I always stood proud, flew the company flag high, and sincerely loved my BlackBerry. I still use a 9900, it’s weak but I need the keyboard with my fat fingers.
Over two years ago, I began to start asking serious questions, very clearly, and really important ones. Questions about the real reasons for all the delays, about various architectural decisions that seemed wrong and the cheap way out, etc. Any answer I actually did get was shocking, and always left me thinking “oh no, oh no I really hope that gets sorted out”. I can’t share these details but I assure you, while your concern and gripes about your device are valid, they don’t even represent the tip of this now deficient and weak technological iceberg. Gradually, everything which the company seemed founded upon and stood by for years (technology wise), was being usurped with a model and approach that I fundamentally disagreed with, and only now is the public starting to wake up to it. The QNX operating system is good, and the QNX guys up in Ottawa are a fine team. Dan Dodge as a technologist knows what he’s talking about, but like a cog in a wheel, those guys are only one part. Still, so what if the device operating system has enough power to run a fancy new web app, when people can’t even use the email application the way they expect to. Believe me, there is no quick and easy solution to that which people are beginning to complain about, things that are so commonly accepted as staple items, are just never again going to look and feel the way BlackBerry used to do work. Sadly, the BlackBerry company has now implemented an inferior model compared to the existing one for Java-BlackBerry devices, as many, many lines of code had to be written for the NOC and it’s new routing and warehousing systems, and as did all the enterprise and workstation software undergo a massive overhaul, with a ridiculous design, and how dare they think that was ever going to jive with serious players. To me it is astounding they would go to such lengths, call it spectacular, and not even realize it’s sub-standard. Listening to all the marketing and sales guys talk about it, uuggh. Any time I spoke with a CIO at one of the major Fortune 500’s, or had to try and help a network administration team understand it, time and time again I felt embarrassed, and just couldn’t keep a straight face. I admit it, I was never meant for sales.
Moreover, despite their mantra of being all about security, security, security, the new design of it all is actually less secure, and for those skeptical geeks that don’t believe me, fine, go read all the whitepapers, several of which I helped write, and then we’ll talk, until then, be quiet and read.
And yet, despite me leaving and no longer being a part of the company, I still felt I needed to listen to Thorsten on Tuesday, and he was right about BlackBerry being an end-to-end solution, but why Thorsten WHY…why did we have to switch over to one that was worse? The decisions were well beyond me, but by continually asking about the rationale behind them and whether or not anyone understood the implications, it always seemed no one had a clue, or maybe they were just happy with the taste of Kool-Aid. I honestly kept walking away from meeting after meeting thinking “how do you seriously not understand if you poke a hole in a dam, water is going to leak?” Well I suppose I’m just complaining now, but I did try because I loved my job, and the company, and the technology, and I never wanted to feel like I did, such that it became untenable to stand by as fault, after inferior design, after shoddy craftsmanship, and bickering beyond belief, seeped into every facet of the development process. I was very sad to quit, and I remain a BlackBerry customer (for now), but nothing, nothing at all will convince me I should spend my hard earned money on a BlackBerry 10 smartphone, no way, it’ll never happen.
I’m actually looking at those Ubuntu for Android phones now, they’ve really peaked my curiosity.
So thank you Mark I appreciate your blog post, I think you speak from the heart and have nailed it, as it always comes down to a human being, and not a chart or business object or line of code. It’s so simple, if it doesn’t work right, if it’s not helpful, if you can’t put your faith in it, and if it’s not fun – why bother.
Amen, Agent Smith.
You’ve got me thinking that RIM needs Mike to come back as CTO; and I’m not kidding.
I really like the q10; a lot. Oracle bought sun/java, Oracle is not known to play nice with licensing, but scoops into industries with locked in customers, and gouging them, so that is the story I tell myself. I believe QNX, has a lot of potential for multicore. However I really don’t technically know. I also believe it will be usefull, with more and more dense soc, programming (system on chip, dsp’s cpu’s, radios’ mems ram’ all on the same chip; also 3d stacked chips are coming. The ui of bb10 is being copied by other phones ios7, ubuntu. The qml UI, (qt) will also be used in the ubuntu phone. Getting rid of the secure network that anon mentions, is the major blow. That kills their differentiating factor, and I don’t know how they recover.
I just wanted thor to cut harder last year, or retrain java devs to c++ which are similar languages OO(manual memory management vs jvm). Way too big of an institution now, where you only have 6 devices a year, need more highquality c programmers. For the app outreach guys they need actual programmers, not song singing marketers. I remember when android was coming out they had tim bray, to go to dev shops. However the api was still stabilizing through the winter, and I commited to making an app, as an independent dev, however, software takes longer than expected, and my non story may be others nonstory. I think they have potential, but they may burn cash too quick on their way. Also 41 apps usually installed on a mobile device at a time, I really wish they had just paid to port the top 20 in each country for launch.
Also what I’m worried about is the microsoft fiat partnership edging out the chrysler/qnx. Damn. It is going to be tough.
They need a value prop on using their now unused backend network services. What they could do is offer platform as a service, to app developers, (which is what is taking me so long) so similar to azure for windows, or amazon aws, but they would be able to offer benefits/cheaper, to blackberry focused apps, and corporate customers. Hybrid cloud, vpn, etc. But this may be too late/complicated/orthogonal to their business plan.
I mean as soon as Oracle got into Sun they sued Google for dalvik, so I can see why BBRY at the time, made the jump for qnx. And I think it was smart, but it has taken a long time.
You include comments from “Agent Smith” – I don’t know who “Agent Smith” is but his comments are at best rather vague and provide absolutely no detail on the merits and shortcomings of BB10 platform. All I read from him are terms like, “…after inferior design, after shoddy craftsmanship, and bickering beyond belief, seeped into every facet of the development process…”
You say that Mike L. should be back – I have tremendous respect for Mike L. and I hope that he will be back at $BBRY as well – but not for the same reasons that you point to. I think you are aware that it was Mike who went about acquiring all the companies (QNX, Astonishing Tribe, etc.) and went about creating the the next generation architecture and strategy for Blackberry’s future – BB 10, BES 10, etc. Knowing Mike’s technical prowess I doubt he would have built something inferior when putting together BB10, BES10 and reworking their network. As “Agent Smith” and Thorsten has pointed out practically every single line of BB10 has been rewritten – like any software it takes time to get back all the functionality – instead of showing some patience you have left hopes on Blackberry just after a couple of months of BB10 launch! The amount of improvement I have seen since 10.0 (currently I am running the leaked version of 10.2.0.1047) is just amazing.
Please don’t abandon Blackberry – instead, people like you, who are very influential in Canadian society, should be supportive of this company’s effort to pull itself back.
I am long $BBRY and I have written this based on my personal experience with the Z10.