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RIM chief wanted shift from BlackBerry to data services

RIM’s former co-CEO Jim Balsillie wanted to shift the company from its dependence on BlackBerry hardware in favour of a future built as much on outsourcing data services, unnamed sources have told Reuters.

According to details of the reported plan, mobile carriers would have paid the company to run data and messaging over its network, offering non-BlackBerry (i.e Android, iPhone or Windows Phone) users access to relatively cheap plans.

Such a strategy would have separated the company’s core data network and software from the BlackBerry smartphones which have been central to RIM’s business. Although not an abandonment of the BlackBerry by any means – the reports do not make clear how the strategy would have affected hardware development – the move would have been seen as risky and radical.

The other half of RIM’s management team, founder Mike Laziridis, and future CEO Thorsten Heins, is said to have strongly opposed the plan, which led to Balsillie stepping down as join CEO and company director, the anonymous sources claimed.

Lazaridis also stepped back from the business on the same day earlier this year, 23 January.

The plan was apparently received positively by some carriers despite the embarrassing outage suffered by the company’s network in October 2011 which appeared to call into question the network’s claimed reliability to host such data services.

Despite financial and market struggles and much of the same poor investor sentiment that sank Laziridis and Balsille’s stewardship of RIM, the company has ploughed with its traditional network-and-hardware model.

Only weeks ago, RIM found itself having to explain miscommunicated remarks by new CEO Heins that it planned to abandon the consumer market in favour of a retrenchment to the business sector.

On 4 April a London PR concert thrown by RIM and attended by hundreds of invited guests ended interrible headlines after a man was fatally attacked.

On a brighter note, this week a Trend Micro-sponsored analysis rated the BlackBerry as the most secure mobile platform, ahead of Android, the iPhone and Windows Phone 7.

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