RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie fires back at Steve Jobs, Apple

RIM's co-CEO, Jim Balsillie has also fired back at Steve Jobs, who said during Apple's Q4 2010 conference call that RIM would need to change into a software company to catch up to iPhone and iPad. Balsillie's statement:

"For those of us who live outside of Apple's distortion field, we know that 7" tablets will actually be a big portion of the market and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience. We also know that while Apple's attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash. We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple. And by the way, RIM has achieved record shipments for five consecutive quarters and recently shared guidance of 13.8 - 14.4 million BlackBerry smartphones for the current quarter. Apple's preference to compare its September-ending quarter with RIM's August-ending quarter doesn't tell the whole story because it doesn't take into account that industry demand in September is typically stronger than summer months, nor does it explain why Apple only shipped 8.4 million devices in its prior quarter and whether Apple's Q4 results were padded by unfulfilled Q3 customer demand and channel orders. As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story."

It's strong words that, like Kevin says, is fast becoming a real tech soap opera. However, it's odd that Balsillie hangs so much of RIM's hat on the tired old rack that is Adobe Flash, especially when they have the new QNX OS-based hotness in the pipeline.

Does Flash answer the challenge of becoming a software-driven company, especially considering Flash doesn't currently run on BlackBerry either, and won't until the PlayBook ships next year?


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie fires back at Steve Jobs, Apple


Simple, no one outside of tech circles has heard of QNX. I think non-tech folks at least know that flash does video for the web.

So funny reading the Fan boi writers of these articles..here you cant just post the article but you have to defend apple with your little jab at flash, which STILL is a credible advantage over apple and on crackberry the same thing but the fan boi over there takes a parting shot at apple.

@Hank -- Which BlackBerry device currently supports Flash 10.1? None that I'm aware of, and none are scheduled to ship until next year, and even then it's the PlayBook, not a phone, so it's risky of RIM to use Flash that much in a response.

I don't miss flash on my iPhone or iPad. I use a flash blocker on my desktop. No flash isn't that big of a deal ; unless you've an uneasy addiction to porn I suppose...

@Hank Mardukis, man I TOTALLY agree with you. Im tired of these biased writings. I love this website but I was pretty sure that the fanboi-ism was supposed to be left to the forums and not the articles. Like or not apple world, and Rene, flash is still a huge part of the web. All that "hotness" has yet to help any of the many websites that still run flash. To deny that is pure foolishness. Everyone has they're strengths and faults, but when one company acts as though they are better at everything is when they start to loose a lot of points in my book. When you start to loose appreciation for your competition, you start to loose customers. Sooner or later Capt. Steve and his arrogance is going to leave a bad taste in the mouths of consumers. This coming from an apple fan. Deuces.

I don't think his arrogance has anything to do with consumers buying power. Steve can be the biggest asshole on the planet, even steal candy from children, but he put out good products, I'd still buy it.

i think it's so stupid to start picking media fights with your competitors like some pathetic fanboy on a message board. Just make a better product. Talk about why your good or a better option but there is no need for snarky, banter between these people. It's ok to compare and contrast. but i think Jobs get's all fanboy. And i really don't like fanboys of anything. I like iphones but i hate fanboys.

Oh snappity snap. CEO's fighting these battles over the air is just frightening. If I was a shareholder in RIM i'd be a little scared right now. You see Steve Jobs can say these things because he is an icon. He's been there from the beginning of modern computing and he's eccentric. Basillie just sounds extremely defensive. Just because you cann someone a failure doesn't make you one. That goes for both sides.
And RIM should be talking. Fact is that their market share has dropped to 1/2 of what it used to be. market share meaning they are shipping slightly higher numbers of phones in a widening market. In other words fail.

I'm really tired of the Flash arguments. Adobe can't get Flash working well on any mobile devices, even though they have been trying for an eternity. I bet even if Apple did allow Adobe to take a stab at Flash on iOS, it would never make it to a finished product. I don't know if Adobe is incompetent, or Flash simply sux. Probably a little of both.
My company is currently switching all our website animations from Flash to something iPad friendly. It's not like there aren't alternatives...

It's obvious that SJ is concerned about the Playbook and the other Andoids tablets. Apple is making a killing with the iPad and wants to protect his company (and his stock options). With these new tablets supporting flash and with specs likely as good and perhaps better than the iPad (perhaps price too), flash may become the determining factor in the purchase.
I agree with SJ that the 10 inch screen is better. I don't have such a problem that my iPhone does not support flash, but it would be nice. If the iPad is to make the netbook obsolete and to eat into laptop sales, I would expect it to support flash.
I wonder if iOS 6 for the iPad 3 will support flash. Imagine how revolutionary it will be.

"Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience."
bWHAAHAHA So, um.. what were we all doing before Flash became the plague that it is now? I remember the "good ol' days" of the internet when pages loaded quickly over a 33.6kbps modem and weren't peppered with advertisements.
I also remember the days when Flash was just that annoying plugin that you needed to play some game. Now it's "the real web experience?"
Sorry, it's not. I like the web much better without Flash, and I don't miss it on my iPad at all. Oh, and the porn sites are moving away from it too, so I'm set...

seriously, the one thing people seem to forget is that folks like Jobs, and Ballmer, and all the rest are first and foremost salespeople. Of course they're all going to twist facts and statistics to favor their products. The fact of the matter is Jobs does better than any of them, and always has. You can call him a douche, but you can't argue with the growth of Apple since he came back.
On another note, can we please retire the term "fanboi" now? It's stupid.

@Joe McG - Flash is a big deal as there are many sites or content that use flash and it is not going to dissappear over night. There is no acceptable excuse for the iPad not to support flash. My $200 netbook with a camera, 10 inch screen, 160gb hd can do a lot more than a $500+ iPad, including browse sites with flash.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the Blackberry Torch supposed to bring RIM back to #1? What a dud. Half price less than a month on the market. Now a 7' Playbook that won't be released until next year? Only more time for Apple to dominate the tablet market.
As an Apple stockholder, I love Jobs rhetoric. I do not always agree with him, but he always has Apple on top of the tech news. Good or bad, exposure is good exposure. And I love the fact that he always seems to get a reaction from those clowns at RIM......
Has anyone met a leader that wasn't arrogant?

Don't hate the player hate the game. People hate jobs cuz he has totally cornered the market. One phone a year blows all their competition out the water. Rim has a place in the market (I guess...they still sell) but I would not give up my iPhone.

Love it! Nothing better for this industry then to have all these parties fighting. It's a sign that the industry is in a state of high evolution.
You know what the problem is? None of the carrier CEOs are playing. None of the handset makers are fighting with the carriers. Not in public at least. Hopefully Apple will use it's war chest to buy a carrier. This Facebook crap would be boring. Buying a carrier would be lights out.
Flash has its fanboys. It is a platform. Remember, if Flash wins, we lose. Flash is just another proprietary product from a single vendor. We don't want it to be a dominant platform you know and HTML5 should be advanced poste haste.

I don't know what you guys are talking about...I love this drama! And how many times do I have to tell y'all? The name of the site is TiPb - "The iPhone Blog! Please excuse the writers for being just a wee bit more supportive of the iPhone...(sarcasm).

@jngold. It's irrelevant that flash is a performance pig. Flash is there and it's going to be around for a while. I do not want to have any limits when browsing the web.

Apple's competitors STOP complaining already. Hey if it wasn't for Apple to introduce the iPhone. None of this technology would have or little concerned. If you guys can't handle playing the game and make better products then Apple then I strongly suggest getting out and stop bitching about it. You guys fight more then kids. This is ridiculous. Grow up...

You're pretty slow you know that? =]
I pray you aren't insinuating that Apple is the reason this "technology" is present...SMH.

We all win when new hardware and software comes out. It pushes the entire market up and forces innovation. WebOS's implementation of Stacks is a very novel idea and revolutionary in its own way. This implementation may inspire Apple to their next innovation. (The "multitasking" hidden dock is neat for iPhone and iPad, but will not be sufficient for a complete substitute of a computer's multitasking, which is where iOS will eventually be.)
As for the 7" form, I would prefer it if I wanted to travel and would have my laptop with me (like RIM's core market). I would prefer the 10" (or higher) when I am lounging about my house. There is a market for both. A good amount of the people I work with would prefer a smaller form factor than the iPad.
Also, as far as flash goes, it may be dieing, but Adobe can always reinvent themselves with a better implementation. Regardless if they die or not, and regardless of how clunky it is, flash is still around and well used today. Many of the local restaurants where I live use flash on their websites and my favorite video sites use flash (like ThatGuyWithTheGlasses). It may be a legacy platform now, but it is still used and the Web is not complete without it.
Sorry, I wrote a lot. My first time posting on the site.

These articles are biased because this website is geared towards apple products, hence the name. This is Rene's site, he can write what he so damn pleases. And of course he's a fanboy, why would he have created this place otherwise?

Oh, and I use a flash blocker on all of my computers and my web experience is actually faster and more enjoyable without all the crashing, dumb animations and ridiculous sound bites designed to get my attention.
Flash is dead.

They are just pointing out where Jobs is wrong and where "his" platform is lacking..that's all. I wouldn't say he's "hanging his hat" on Flash.

Sorry to say it but RIM's Co-CEO got it right. Users get tired of Apple dictating the rules. Lets see, if you have to wipe you iPhone for whatever reason (and it can and will happen) and your are not near a computer, live near an Apple store etc you are out of luck. I can hard reset my Android if I want to, sync up my data that is backed up, install my apps from Appbrain and I am off and running. I don't have to go back home and turn on iTunes.
The distorsion field is strong on the weak minded, but users have a choice and that is all I care about.

A guy at my work has a droid x and he was anxiously awaiting software 2.2 for flash support, but then he complained about how slow it made websites and it allowed those annoying advertisements on some sites.

Steve Jobs is just pissing everyone off today isn't he? And people wonder why people get mad at him.
Steve Jobs likes to point out where everyone lacks, without looking at his flaws, well guess what? Those companies acknowledge their flaws and try to improve them and they always fire back at Apple and Steve Jobs about their products flaws. But Steve Jobs has shoved his head so far up his ass that you can't tell where he ends or begins.

It sounds like webOS got the Flash issue right. Put in support and leave the option to load each piece up to the user. Flash is far from dead, it'll be here for a while even after HTML5 is finalized. And speaking of HTML5, Jobs isn't doing it any favors by implementing an incomplete spec that the finalization may actually move away from.

I love this stuff. 7" tablets are going to fail basically cause they are too small and as of now, they will not have access to the Android Market. So you are paying hundreds for a tiny browser. And the "good ones" will be coming out when iPad 2 is which means they will be DOA cause they are all first gens.

Talk is cheap let them show us what products they can wow us with, Jobs is up2 something he always dismisses things just to come up with it later and sell it like is magic.

In the US, iPhones are sold on one carrier. Multiple models of Blackberries are sold on multiple carriers, practically given away. 'Nuff said.

@Robert there is option to turn flash off! What's ur excuse now? Like it or not I as a consumer want choices like flash but one thing I don't néed is apples arrogance to tell me what's best for me!

The fact that Steve picked an earnings call to go off on this rant has me scared as an apple stock holder. He obviously scared and looking like a complete idiot. If you're not concerned about your competitors you don't talk about them. Apple hasn't in the past. To acknowleded competition in an earnings call no less,

What are you talking about man? So an Android phones capability to restore itself wirelessly is big advantageous feature? You have to be kidding me. That's exactly the same type of comment that Andy Ruben tweeted.
A feature that matters to a vanishingly small population. First, something happens to an iPhone such that you had to hard reset and delete everything on it. Then get your contact type info back on the phone and after that get your apps back on.
That's like a crazy scenario to sway a buyers' decision. For a lot of people, it isn't even advisable. What happens if you have gigabytes of apps? What if your contact info, email isn't on Google?
And this constant impuning of Apple with draconian, dictatorial while the opposing side is all about choice is plain stupid. Everyone has a choice to buy Apple, RIMM, Android, WP7, featurephones or not to buy at all.
It's like you guys are confusing business strategy with inalienable human rights. Nobody is being forced to do anything here.

Rene is an idiot. He suffers from the same reality distortion field that jobs does. Totally incapable of an original thought. And in an apple fan and stockholder. jobs rant made me nervous because Steve sounded like he was saying his inner voice outloud, the same one he uses to convince himself that apple is the best all end all. Get a brain and think for yourself rene!

@thetruth I don't need an excuse because I am using an iPhone. Sure there have been a couple of times flash would have been useful but I found very easy work arounds. If I have to turn off a feature to make the phone function the way it should then I see no point in having that feature.

Flash is pointless to talk about until they can show it running well with good battery life, stable and a touch interface. Until then it doesn't matter. The 7" touchscreen I thought was stupid when it was rumored apple would do it and it's stupid now. I didn't even know it was that small but I did know anything smaller than my iPad was pointless unless it could fit in my pocket and like jobs said that is a smartphone

Btw, the screen size thing is kind of a red herring. In order of importance (I think): [price], weight, [GUI], [content], battery life, thinness, then maybe screen size. Jobs' certainly has a point about screen size being important, but there are inter-related factors, and some more important than others. It's certainly a push-pull of priorities.
If Apple made the iPad 0.75 lb (half the current weight) by switching to a lithium-aluminum alloy or a lithium-magnesium alloy, use thinner glass, use more efficient 32 nm chips, more efficient screens, more efficient everything resulting in a smaller battery, would people think that it is more portable? Yes. It will certainly be easier to use one handed. If it was 0.35 inches thick, would people think it is more mobile? Yes. I think that's all it will take to make the iPad feel more mobile and will be just as competitive to smaller tablets.
What's the biggest benefit of a 7" tablet? It is undoubtedly weight. The screen is less than half as small, and it is going to feel cramped and smartphone-like. It certainly isn't going to fit in most pockets or purses. Cargo pants pockets are not most pockets. But half the weight, that's a big win. But the screen may be too small to be really a good user experience so it could be for naught.
At some point the reduction in weight doesn't become that important anymore and other factors will become more important. It's probably somewhere at 0.75 to 1 lb where further decreases in weight from there won't be that big of a deal.

I'm just about through with this site. How is someone without any objectivity (Rene Ritchie) aloud to even cover any news on this site. He is so biased. Even if iPhones were killing puppies while their owners sleep, Rene would (brainlessly) defend Jobs and the iPhone. No device is perfect - Android, Blackberry, iPhone, WinMo - they all have good and bad qualities. The fact that Steve talked about his competition (on an earnings call of all places) demonstrates that he's feeling the pressure. I wouldn't be surprised if stockholders start to get mad about this type of behavior and question if Steve is going off the deep end. Really...who the heck does something like this in the middle of an earnings call.

Rene, if you're just going to regurgitate everything Apple and Steve Jobs does, don't even offer your opinion. You're a moron. At least Dieter offers pluses and minuses of each platform, handset, etc. I've been a fan since the early days of the Smartphone Central family of blogs - way before the iPhone existed and site content has gone downhill. Deiter, stop hiring fanboys to write for these blogs and get bloggers who can offer point and counterpoint - not just one sided blind following of a-hole Steve Jobs.

Seriously? Did you seriously say "the tired old rack that is adobe flash"??? I love SOME apple products but I really would like to access the whole web as they say. Not a day goes by browsing with my iPad that I don't have to send myself a bookmark for something I have to view or can ONLY view or use on a real computer. Steve may not like it, but a huge part of the real Internet relies on flash (whether or not he likes it or wants to admit and deal with that fact). And while I use PCs for real computing and Steve may use only Apples, flash DOES NOT "crash" my computer or cause any other problems (except maybe eating up RAM but certainly no worse than iTunes does).
The bottom line for me is that while I like some apple products, Steve Jobs is basically an egomaniacal jack hole. He is more interested in his own blow heart opinion than he is his users. It's kinda sad that Tibp only encourages this. I have no wonder why he was fired from his own company years ago. He's basically a jerk.

If you have to "find a work around" then the device doesn't "just work". And if the work around is to boot up your PC or jailbreak then that definately doesn't "just work".

Personal insults and comments like "fanboy" mean you can't factually disagree with anything I wrote and are so upset by that you'd rather just lash out.
There's nothing Apple-biased or Steve Jobs-centric in my post. If I were Balsillie, I would have pointed to the PlayBook and it's pretty great looking QNX OS and told Jobs to take his advice and stick it.
I would have talked up BlackBerry security and messaging, 2 things Apple can't touch.
Balsillie mentioned none of those things. That's why I found it odd he mentioned Flash -- which isn't a RIM product, and doesn't work on any current RIM products -- 3 times in his comments.
And nowhere did Balsillie say why RIM thought a 7-inch tablet was the right size. Jobs spent several minutes saying why it was a terrible size, and you can agree or disagree but he stated a case. Balsillie could have stated a case for a 7-inch tablet as well (fits great in a jacket pocket, cheaper to produce, etc.)
There was so much Balsillie could have said. "Flash. Flash. Flash." was a really odd way to go.

Last paragraph first sentence, I think you mention to say "blackberry" instead of flash because they are a software company.

Perhaps he doesn't feel the need to defend their plans to Jobs, which honestly makes perfect sense. As for 7 inch tablets, I personally can see the use for more mobile work if the dimensions are appropriate. The iPad really is heavy and awkward if you're trying to work on it and carry it around at the same time. Good size for leisure or sationary work, not so much for more mobile work.

It amazes me that with all the money Apple has, they could really get away with not spending a dime on advertising! ;-) That is PRICELESS!!!!
As far as RIM and Flash go, their ultimate fate will be determined by time and technology...

I really think that others inside Apple will force the engineering team to make Flash work on the iPad. It was a bad business decision to release it without Flash capability - and that will become glaringly apparent when Android tablets flood the market. Apple will have to allow it - the same way they softened on their third party developer tools and Apps guidelines. Competition will be better in the long run for the consumer.

@Rene, Im not so sure that everyone is necessarily trying to "insult" you by saying some of the things sound "fanboyish" in your comments. The biggest mistake that anyone can make at this point in time is to say that flash is useless. Yes, its the old technology. I agree with everyone on that. But, it is however the current technology and to discredit it is a mistake. Its like the old saying, give credit where credit is due. I think the reason RIM decided to bring up flash so much is because its still very much in use throughout the web and, sad to say, but in order to enjoy a FULL, unencumbered web experience, the device that you are using needs to support that. Apple's mobile products (iPhone, iPad, iTouch etc.) do not and RIM's newer and upcoming mobile products do. So until the new formats not only come out but take over the internet like flash has, RIM had a very good point. They may have made a mistake in using that as their main focus, but its something that shouldn't be ignored. I own a small business and to this day still cannot show certain aspects that were created on our company website while using my iPad. It really all just depends on the audience and who your trying to get through to. I think RIM looks at things from a business/corporate standpoint and Apple looks at things from a consumer standpoint. That being said, I disagree and think that RIM did a good job at saying what they needed to say. After all, this wasn't a product presentation. This was firing back at an unnecessarily arrogant rant by Jobs. There will be plenty of time to show off their product when and how they choose. But, thats just my .02 and to each his own.

Also, I stand corrected. I just read a lot of those comments and it seems that they are, in fact, trying to insult you...lol sorry though.

I dont understand why anyone uses flash as an argument for anything. The internet is heading to HTML5 like it or not... and websites are switching daily. Its much easier to code in one format and have everything integrated. Flash is a just "plugin". Half the time you have to re-download it to get it to even work. Like much of Adobe's products.. flash will eventually become a premium pay product like the rest of their offerings. And thats fine.. they make outstanding software.

Don't blame CEO, they want RIM win.
RIM has strange culture and self distruct political environment.
In RIM if a new hired person figure out major problem and introduce efficient approach, both manager and his buddy group member will proof their wrong approach works. just like someone point out driving a car is right way, pushing a car is wrong way, then both manager and his buddy group member will hate you, and proof that 3 person can also move the car by pushing it. cheating email will be sent to some vice president, saying like: see, the car moving, pushing a car is a natural part of the process, in order to deny new hired contribution of introducing skill of drive a car, they have to deny merit of driving a car.
It is very strange company culture and strange company political environment, it promote stealing and cheating skill. RIM’s management may be a typical instance in MBA course.
This culture deny or steal hardworking team members’ contribution/innovation, generate strange political environment, destroy RIM.
So don't blame CEO, some of their VPs and VPs' expert generate terrible culture and self destruct political environment.

Universal Healthcare would remove this immense financial burden from the Big 3, and possibly help these companies, and many more, rescue themselves from the brink of elimination.