Regardless of Its Future CEO or Owner, RIM’s Future is Cloud Services


RIM has announced that co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie will step down and will be replaced with current COO Thorsten Heins. The news follows rumor that Samsung was in talks to acquire all or part of RIM (a rumor that Samsung denies).

RIM has struggled in recent years despite increased sales as Android and iOS devices take market share from BlackBerry devices, not to mention major outages and scrutiny from major governments regarding its encryption methods (many countries want to the ability to snoop on their citizen’s encrypted messages).

I made the case last year that RIM has pivoted before and it could do so again. The company started out in 1984 working on mobile technology for wireless characters. It didn’t make its first two-way pager until 1995. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) are strong assets of the company.

As I’ve written before, cloud services are where the real money is going to be. Mobile is the real driver for cloud adoption. That’s why Apple built iCloud. It’s why Google gives its operating system away for free. It’s why Microsoft is investing so much into Bing and Azure. It’s why HP’s webOS still has a fighting chance as a cross-OS application platform.

The BES was one of the original enterprise cloud services. And now RIM is actually offering it as a cloud service as part of Microsoft Office 365. And it’s finally going to release a version that will support other manufactures’ devices. That, and a cross-platform version of BBM that appeals to both enterprise and consumer users, will be the company’s future, if it still has one.