Jim Balsillie Considered Allowing Wireless Companies Through RIM’s Network Before Stepping Down

Posted Apr 13, 2012

Former RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie considered reinventing RIM by allowing major wireless companies in North American and Europe to provide service to non-BlackBerry devices through RIM’s proprietary network before he stepped down. This would have been a radical shift from the company’s BlackBerry-only strategy.

This strategy would allow carriers to use the RIM network for offering inexpensive data plans, which would be only limited to social media and instant messaging. This would entice low-tier customers to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones. RIM’s other former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis still has an active role at the company by Balsillie is no longer working day-to-day.

Carriers potentially saw value in the plan and the package would have included the RIM BlackBerry Messenger application. However RIM’s private network crashed last year, which would add a layer of risks that some carriers may not have wanted a part of.

RIM’s network is integrated with cellular networks around the world and it is managed by a string of data centers. RIM encrypts and compresses data and then pushes them out to BlackBerry devices.

RIM got as far as developing software to deliver the service to users on Apple and Android operating systems. They also studied the global potential of selling the service. Before that could take place, RIM’s new CEO Thorsten Heins and the board rejected Balsillie’s initiative to favor a focus on the next-generation of BlackBerry 10 phones due later in the year.