Tag: Mike-Laziridis

Mike Lazaridis on RIM strategy and BlackBerry technology

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Walt Mossberg sat down with RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis to talk BlackBerry. The interview was presented on D7 by All Thing Digital.

The interview started off with a fundamental question about RIM’s shift to the consumer space. According to Mike, RIM was pushed into the space from demand. Consumers were asking for the functionality of BlackBerry and it just made sense for them to enter the consumer market.

One of the issues Mike Lazaridis touches on, the “big white elephant in the room,” is network capacity. Mike believes we need to overcome some issues of network capacity in order for the full potential of these devices to be reached. “Voice usage doesn’t scale exponentially,” Lazaridis says. “But data usage does….If we don’t get ahead of this problem and make things scalable and ensure that applications aren’t so data intensive,” we’re in trouble apparently. The industry needs to come together to resolve these issues before we’ve gone too far. Remember, voice and data often share the same bandwidth, and they’ll both suffer as data usage increases. He says RIM works very closely with AT&T (T) to optimize its radio code and its network so that everyone benefits. That said, “it may be a mistake to assume that you’re going to get the wired broadband experience in a wireless environment.

Something I’ve been discussing with companies in the BlackBerry space that Walt touched on is security from a developers standpoint. The fact that RIM started as a company for enterprise and is shifting to consumer, provides them with a competitive advantage. The robust security features of BlackBerry came from an enterprise need and they’re only beneficial to the consumer. “We believe that over time, consumers will start to value the BlackBerry’s security accreditations.” RIM’s devices apparently have the largest number of these in the industry. And that should make consumers confident in the company’s devices. RIM has done its best to make it platform secure and scalable and that has served the company well as it caters to its core base in enterprise. Lazaridis seems to be saying that RIM’s position in the enterprise is so strong that he’s not worried about Apple (AAPL) or Microsoft (MSFT).

Walt uses the interview with Mike as an opportunity to take a jab at the BlackBerry Storm. Yes, the Storm could have been better in that it was a first build and there are several improvements that could have been made. On the other hand, RIM knows the smartphone space better than Apple and you can be assured that the Storm 2 will be a better typing and user experience. When Walt asks if the Storm’s SurePress screen is here to stay, Lazaridis says it is. He didn’t comment on rumors that it will figure prominently in RIM’s next device

[Via]

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BREAKING: RIM settles with OSC for $76 million, Balsillie to step down from board

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Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie

Woah. It looks like the Ontario Securities Commission has made their decision on a possible settlement with RIM over their backdating scandal. The news is fresh as of an hour ago, so I’m just going to quote straight from Reuters:

Research In Motion Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie will step down from the board and, along with other executives of the company that makes the BlackBerry smartphone, will repay tens of millions of dollars to settle stock-option allegations dating back to 1996.

Under the pact reached with the Ontario Securities Commission and approved on Thursday, Balsillie will pay a penalty of C$5 million ($4.1 million), while Co-Chief Executive Mike Lazaridis will pay a C$1.5 million penalty. The two men also must pay investigation costs to the regulator.

The agreement also stipulates that the two co-CEOs and RIM’s former CFO, Dennis Kavelman, will repay C$38.3 million to the company. They must also repay about C$30 million to cover the costs of a voluntary internal probe into the matter undertaken by RIM earlier.

Balsillie and Lazaridis had already paid C$15 million to offset the costs of the Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s internal review. Balsillie may not serve on RIM’s board for at least 12 months as part of the settlement, and Kavelman must pay a C$1.5 million penalty.

The OSC alleged the executives backdated and repriced stock options using dates on which the market price of RIM’s shares was relatively low. Handing out options at the lower prices had the effect of improperly enriching the recipients and, the OSC alleged, could have deprived RIM of about C$66 million.

It’s a huge chunk of change, but at least RIM can now put this whole affair behind them. You can see statements from Balsillie and the OSC after the jump.

|via Reuters|

Continue reading ‘BREAKING: RIM settles with OSC for $76 million, Balsillie to step down from board’

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RIM reaches potential settlement with OSC

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Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie

It looks like RIM is taking care of business this week. One day after doubling their offer to security company Certicom, the Ontario Securities Commission said in a statement that they have reached a potential settlement with RIM’s co-CEO’s Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie following their investigation into a stock option scandal dating back to 1996.

The Ontario Securities Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that it would hold a hearing Feb 5 in Toronto on whether to approve a settlement its staff reached with the company and top executives including co-chief executives Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis.

The regulator issued a statement of allegations in which it alleged Balsillie, Lazaridis and other RIM executives “engaged in the grant of options, in which option backdating or option repricing occurred”. A call and e-mail to the company requesting comment on the specific allegations were not immediately returned.

While no indication of the settlement amount has surfaced, I’m sure RIM will be happy just to be able to put this behind them regardless of cost. We’ll find out tomorrow.

|via Reuters|

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Canadian regulators seeking C$100 million from Balsillie, Lazaridis

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Potentially big news coming via the Globe and Mail this morning regarding RIM’s braintrust. Canadian regulators are seeking a record penalty as high as C$100 million from Co-CEO’s Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie for their role in a stock option accounting controversy dating back to 1996. For those that don’t remember, this is the same scandal that led to Balsillie stepping down as RIM Chairman.

In 2007, a special committee of RIM’s board investigated the back-dating issue, and determined the company had backdated more than 40 per cent of stock options granted to employees since 1996. It also concluded that 12 of the 16 option grants made to Mr. Balsillie and Mr. Lazaridis between 1996 and 2006, to acquire a total of two million shares, were priced using an incorrect date.

Reached last night at his home, Balsillie declined to comment on what he described as “rumours,” the paper reported. Neither Lazaridis nor his lawyer could be reached. A spokeswoman for the OSC said: “We can’t comment on enforcement cases.”

The Ontario Securities Commision is apparently pushing for Balsillie to pay the bulk of any penalty and relinquish his seat on RIM’s board of directors for a period of time. If the full $100-million penalty were approved, it would rank as the largest penalty paid by individuals to the OSC.

|via Globe and Mail|

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How RIM perfected the trackwheel

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Prior to the development of the BlackBerry scrollball, the BlackBerry trackwheel (found on the stalwart BlackBerry 8700 among others) was probably the best navigation mechanic of any smartphone. It was always a wonder to me how RIM could get it right where so many others failed. RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis gives us the answer in his interview with CNET Asia.

Lazaridis: We had the first symmetric keyboard and the first real successful use of the track wheel. Other companies have tried using track wheels and they gave up. Nobody really got the ball right. The problem with the track wheel was that in the early days, the manufacturers made them very stiff. The plastic was so rigid that, no matter what you did, if it hits the ground like this, it would break and the circuit board would crack.

We have very sophisticated labs with high-speed cameras, electronic scanning microscopes and infrared fast frame rate transform scanners that we invested in a long time ago. What we found with high-speed photography was that there was no deflection in the wheel when it hit the surface. The wheel stayed totally rigid and that snapped it right off. There was no saunter joint, metal pin, nothing. It’s so hard to manufacture and that’s why most companies gave up on it because there were a few phones that had it earlier on.

What we discovered and invented was a suspension in our track wheels. The suspension is sort of like the moon buggies, and what’s interesting about it is, you can’t feel it. It’s so stiff that you don’t notice that it’s got a suspension. But high-speed photography shows that when it hits, it bends in and it doesn’t break. That lowered the breakage a hundred times. Not a 100 percent, but a hundred times. That was a very big breakthrough for the industry, but we patented the technology.

Lazaridis goes onto state that RIM was also first company to come up with USB charging. Two cool pieces of trivia about what makes BlackBerrys so special.

|via CNET|

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Sorry Mike, the BlackBerry Storm is not a netbook

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CNET Asia’s interview with RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis contains a boatload of interesting information about where the head honcho of BlackBerry development feels the industry in moving and where it has been. However, before we get to that, we have to address something that Lazaridis said that is… somewhat weird. Here’s Mr. Lazaridis’ answer to the question of whether he perceives any threats to BlackBerrys from netbooks.

I think I can put Netbooks in here [referring to the BlackBerry Storm]. These are Netbooks. They are just smaller.

Hmmm. Wikipedia (not exactly the last word on anything, but a good place to start) defines the netbook as a light-weight, low-cost, energy-efficient, highly portable laptop suitable for web browsing, email and general purpose applications, usually at a cost of less than $400. While you can certainly purchase a BlackBerry Storm for less than $400, it will come with a carrier contract, something no other netbook features to my knowledge, and that is before taking into account the monthly BlackBerry data and telephony costs. And while the BlackBerry Storm is obviously highly portable, it doesn’t compare well to the ease-of-use offered by a netbook (or any laptop for that matter) for a broad range of functions.

However, I think that the ultimate proof that Mr. Lazaridis is off base with the netbook comparison, is the numerous amount of people I’ve seen carrying both a BlackBerry and a netbook. If you have one already, why carry a second?

UPDATE: Power User Nan Palmero just pointed me to a contract subsidized netbook, but for now this is a niche within a niche (micro-niche?).

|via CNET|

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RIM co-CEOs entering Canadian Business Hall of Fame

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In a move that is long overdue, the Canadian Press is reporting that RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are the latest inductees to the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. The brain trust of our favorite company from Waterloo were among six luminaries to be given the honour by the Junior Achievement of Canada organization.

Inductees to the Hall of Fame are nominated by their peers and are chosen by an independent selection committee representing Canada’s foremost business, academic and media institutions. Mike and Jim will be formally inducted at a ceremony in Toronto next May. Congratulations, gentlemen!

|via CP|

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Complete audio of the BlackBerry Developer Conference now available (BlackBerry Bytes)

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If you weren’t one of the lucky people attending the BlackBerry Developers Conference, take heart, RIM is bringing part of the experience to you! No, it’s not a free BlackBerry, but possible something much more valuable: the entire 2008 BBDC keynote audio. Weighing in at over 3 hours (!), the keynote has something for everyone: Mike Lazaridis’ inspiring address to developers, Rick Segal of the BlackBerry Partners Fund debuting the Dev Challenge winners and mentioning the BlackBerry Cool 15 about 15 times, (enough for a fun drinking game!) or the highly technical stuff near the end about Eclipse or MS Visual studio support.

BlackBerry Developer Conference Keynote Audio

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Mike Lazaridis donates $50M to Waterloo physics center

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In what has become standard procedure for RIM’s co-CEO, Mike Lazaridis has donated an additional $50 million to the Perimeter Institute, Waterloo’s center for theoretical physics, bringing his total contribution levels to a whopping $150 million (Lazaridis donated an initial $100 million to help found the center in 2000).

“These are exciting times in science, and we have the good fortune to propel new ideas right here in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada,” he said. “It is an important mission I feel passionate about and wish to support.”

Lazaridis made the private donation Wednesday evening just prior to a public lecture at the institute. Mikey, listen: we think it’s a great thing you’re doing here forwarding scientific discovery (and using RIM’s proximity to the Perimeter Institute to capitalize on that discovery), but if all you wanted was a lecture gig, you should have just come here. We would have gladly let you give a lecture at BBCool HQ for a cool mill, no questions asked (in unmarked ones, preferably). Call us.

(via CBC)

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WES 2008 Keynote: Mike Lazaridis and Mike De La Cruz and James M. Kilts (Keynote Party)

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blackberrycoolmike.jpg8:34am Late to bed, late to rise! But BBCool is here in full effect, along with 12 million other people! Simon’s going to be manning the flickr stream, and you have BBCool Douglas handling the live blogging!

8:38am Last year, Mikey L. toughed through a keynote while sick. If he’s healthy this year, he should be 5x more effective

More liveblogging after the jump

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