Open Letter to Thorsten Heins

May 7, 2013

Thorsten Heins
President and CEO
Blackberry

Dear Thorsten,

As a CEO, you have to believe in your company or you’ll fail, and who could disagree that the knob attached to your belief in BlackBerry goes to 11? But even if that belief is fully warranted, the best you can hope for is ending up in third place.

You could be first place in a market that matters, and do so without a radical change in direction. What it takes is a focus on the others manage my smartphone market.

The enterprise part of this market BlackBerry understands better than anyone. You have experience, credibility, and perhaps most importantly, an understanding that corporate IT departments are your customers, not the end user.

Think of how this could play for consumers. Rather than an IT department, a phone could be managed by a parent, adult child, small business, tech-savvy friend, or even oneself with a remote interface. “Phone management services” would spring up. (Wouldn’t supporting those services beat convincing crappy-app developers to make BlackBerry their fourth platform?)

Third party management would make powerful new capabilities practical. Policy driven management, such as time-of-day texting for 12-year-olds. The ability to configure the home screen for an elderly parent with only phone, email, Facebook, and 411. iOS and Android apps to securely manage BlackBerry smartphones.

I could go on, but I think you can see it. It would drive new lines of phones. Various levels of complexity for different sized businesses. Even management APIs to automate processes and drive new capabilities.

nly BlackBerry is perfectly set up to develop this consumer focused management capability, if only for architectural reasons.

The implications for your marketing are clear, too. Once you have a defensible value prop, you can focus on it, which would be a relief.

Of course you won’t neglect enterprises, any more than you’ll neglect those who hate to type on glass. (I’m shocked that there are no credible Android offerings with keyboards, and expect that to change. But while it is true, put the pedal down!)

Clearly, changing to this course will only work if you do it with conviction, with the belief knob turned up to 11. I can’t wait to see the new BlackBerry future unfold.

Best regards,

Larry Zulch