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Leadership video - A heartfelt apology from the boss

Saturday, October 15, 2011
by Jim Riley

This video features a personal message from RIM (maker of Blackberry) Founder and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis on the BlackBerry service outage which enraged millions of Blackberry users in the UK and around the world.  Why did he feel the need to publish the video?  Because RIM spectacularly failed to handle the crisis that arose when the Blackberry server network collapsed, cutting off tens of millions of BlackBerry users for three and a half days.  Service outage has triggered a wave of defections to rival handset makers such as Apple and Samsung - perfect timing for both as they launch new versions of their smartphones.

The tangible and intangible cost of the service outage for RIm is hugely significant.  The Times reports that:

“RIM is facing potentially huge pay-outs over lost data revenue to networks and to customers who have lost business as a result of the blackout, but it is the damage to its reputation as having a “bulletproof” network that could be the real danger.”

Back in 2007, when Apple’s iPhone was launched, RIM was worth £50bn. Four years on, the iPhone has established iconic status in the smartphone market and the Blackberry service outage has fuelled further concerns amongst RIM investors. The Observer comments that:

“RIM’s reputation is in tatters. Hammered by falling profits, the company is now valued at just under $13bn”

It also points out that:

“While BlackBerrys are still considered the most secure smartphone, the brand is swiftly moving from “must have” to “must I have?”

Anyway, here is Mike Lazaridis in full apology mode. An interesting bit of background: Lazaridis founded RIM as a student!

It will be interesting to get your students’ response to the video.  Is it effective?  Do they believe him or trust him?  Is it too late?

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