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RIM Still as Clueless and Arrogant as Ever

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When will the madness end?

When will Research in Motion (RIMM) finally, unabashedly own up to its own mistakes -- without equivocation, without displacing blame?

Over the last few years -- as Apple (AAPL) introduced the iPhone, as Google (GOOG) unleashed one flagship Android device after another, and even as Nokia (NOK) and Microsoft (MSFT) took a chance on an unlikely partnership and delivered something impressive -- RIM has shaken its head in disgust at consumers who simply "don't get it."

Less than a year ago, former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis ranted against the critics and users who haven't "appreciated" the company's profits and growth. "Why is it that people don't appreciate the fact that we spent the last four years going global?" he ranted. "Why is it that people don't appreciate that we have 500 carriers in 170 countries with products in almost 30 languages?" Even when announcing a disastrous quarter, Lazaridis and fellow CEO Jim Balsillie couldn't heap enough praise onto each other's shoulders.

And now, as new CEO Thorsten Heins promises that no change is needed, then backpedals, then relies on the failure of iPhone and Android security in order to get ahead, RIM director Roger Martin solidifies the notion that there's little hope for the company to ever come to its senses.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Martin railed against the idea that RIM could've turned things around back when the industry sensed a changing of the tide. "I laugh at the vast majority of critics when they say 'Oh, you should have made this CEO transition, like, four years ago.' Yeah, right -– like, to who?"

Hypothetical or not, you sure you want to ask that question, Roger?

Judging from the stubborn and ill-fated direction that Lazaridis and Balsillie took RIM while competitors were scrambling to innovate and entice, pretty much anyone with an iota of novelty and outside perspective could've outperformed that poisonous duo. And judging from Martin's perception of the competition, he wasn't up for the task himself.

"People were saying we can't make powerful phones like Apple. Yes, we can, but we couldn't believe consumers would put up with that kind of battery inefficiency and that kind of network inefficiency."

Well, they did. In droves. Shouldn't that have clued you in on something?

But Martin indicated that change was out of the question, as he scoffed at the notion that bringing in an outsider would have done anything good, comparing the move to flailing companies like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell (DELL), and, um, Apple.

"So we're supposed to hand it over to children, or morons from the outside who will destroy the company?" he asked. "Or should we try to build our way to having succession?"

From the looks of things, it appears you're trying to do both, Roger.

But surprisingly, against all odds, the RIM director managed to dig himself even deeper by praising the leadership of the former co-CEOs and actually backdated a comparison to Apple by nearly three decades so RIM's management would look superior.

"People just don't understand the depth of understanding these guys have of their business, the connections." Adding, "[Critics] ask 'Why can't you be more like Apple?' So we should go bankrupt and fire our founders and bring in a moron? That's what we should do?"

No need, Roger. They already have at least one at the top.


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