Former Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) co-chief executive Jim Balsillie wanted to let the company’s Blackberry network start supporting Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and devices based on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. Balsillie’s proposal, vetoed by other top executives and leading to a lot of discord at the top, reportedly sparked his exit from the company. Basically, only Jim believed in sharing.
RIM’s proprietary network has been a big part of the company’s strategy and remains a big asset as its stock tumbles among diminishing sales and revenue. Balsillie wanted to allow big wireless companies in North America and Europe to use his company’s network to offer customers cheap data limited to social media and instant messaging. Balsillie said this would’ve helped upgrade more customers to smartphones while adding a new revenue stream for the company at the same time.
The sharing would have been extended to include RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger application, an exclusive network until now that long-time users cite as one of the main reasons to stick to the service, Reuters says. The BlackBerry network offers basic messaging and social media plans to its users that are cheaper than wireless plans on other devices.
Balsillie had reportedly already begun talks with AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and with Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica (NYSE:TEF), and France Telecom (NYSE:FTE) in Europe. The company had also already developed software to deliver the service to Apple and Android devices.
However, the company’s new chief executive, Thorsten Heins, Balsillie’s former partner at the top, Mike Lazaridis, and the board of directors rejected the plan.
Sales of RIM’s BlackBerry handsets have waned and the company’s stock price fell 75 percent last year as competition from Apple’s iPhone and Android devices has grown over the years. Balsillie still has a 5 percent stake in the company’s stock, but does not hold a board position anymore.
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