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14 Apr 12 RIM Chief Wanted to Support iPhone, Android

[Clint Boulton]

Former Research in Motion Co-CEO Jim Balsillie’s exit was precipitated by his proposal, vetoed by other executives,  to allow RIM’s Blackberry network to support Apple’s iPhone and handsets based on Google’s Android software, reports Reuters’ Alastair Sharp.

The news would surely have CIOs slapping their foreheads in disgust, if only they weren’t so focused on figuring out how to securely deploy iPhones, iPads and Android handsets and tablets. With RIM’s BlackBerry handset sales waning and the company’s stock price falling 75% in 2011, the BlackBerry business network is perhaps the company’s biggest remaining asset because it offers security and management tools CIOs crave. RIM charges carriers to use the network to secure mobile data for each BlackBerry handset they sell.

Balsillie reportedly wanted to open this network up to support other devices, allowing the company to boost its revenue stream by making some of the money back Apple and Android handset makers have taken from RIM. But RIM’s executive management wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of sharing its network with the competition. Most CIOs we’ve spoken with love the security and manageability of RIM’s secure network and enterprise software, but acknowledge employees prefer iPhones or Android devices with large, handsome touchscreens.

“RIM is a dying platform,” one CIO of a global manufacturer said, under condition of anonymity because he is still supporting thousands of BlackBerry devices. Balsillie clearly felt the same, which is why he suggested RIM open its network up to rivals. CIOs would likely embrace the application of security from RIM’s network for their Apple and Android devices.

Ironically, new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins suggested he’s open to exploring such deals on the very day Balsillie “cut his last professional tie to the company,” writes Sharp.

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