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RIM responds to highly critical, anonymous letter

RIM headquarters

Boy Genius Report has published an open letter allegedly from a “high-level RIM employee” that is severely critical of the company—and, surprisingly, RIM has responded in public—although the depth of that response may not satisfy many concerned BlackBerry fans.

The letter opens with “I have lost confidence” and goes on to make an impassioned plea for the future of the company, laying out eight main points that the author believes will be crucial to turning around RIM’s fortunes. The author claims to articulating feelings “across a huge percentage” of RIM’s employee base, but says that speaking up openly through standard corporate channels could have “career-limiting” effects. The letter goes on to praise the talent and capabilities of many of RIM’s employees, but chastises RIM’s management, claiming teams aren’t working together well and that the company needs to pare down its projects, focusing on the end user an app experience by leveraging RIM’s end-to-end control of their platform. The letter also claims RIM’s management is lacks familiarity with competing products, doesn’t listen to its employees, and claims the company is relying on “lazy marketing” to sell its products.

Boy Genius Report says it has verified the identity of the author.

RIM responded to the letter with surprising speed. The company first questioned its authenticity, finding it “difficult to believe” a high-level employee would resort to an anonymous letter rather than express concerns through internal channels. RIM’s response goes on to assert that the company’s senior management is “aggressively addressing” the company’s current challenges, and that there is “much excitement” within RIM for products the company is planning to introduce in the coming months.

In the meantime, RIM’s co-CEO’s may have found a way to dodge a bullet at this month’s annual shareholder meeting: it has persuaded Northwest & Ethical Investments (NEI) to withdraw its proposal that RIM separate its CEO and board chairmanship positions. NEI is one of two proxy firms that have advocated RIM separate its chairman and CEO roles, arguing that RIM investors’ interests are not being adequately represented by having co-CEO’s Mike Lazaridis and Jam Balsillie in both roles. Instead, RIM’s board will establish a committee of independent directors who will study the situation and report back to the board by January 31, 2012. The board will then have 30 days to respond to the committee’s report.

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