By Greg Mills
The “Arab Spring” uprisings in the world of politics is sort of a foreshadow of stockholder uprisings in the tech world. The iPhone/Android smartphone revolution has completely upset the cell phone market over the last five years.
The stock values of the former heavy hitters in the cell phone industry have all taken serious hits. The slowly swelling Apple Mac OS market share is also rearranging the PC hardware software business. Heads will roll.
RIM, once the darling of the cell phone industry is seeing its BlackBerry phone franchise decline markedly. The move to a color touch screen and the processing power to run apps took RIM by surprise a few years back.
There is a story that has circulated the internet that when Apple announced the first iPhone the promised battery life, among other features, seemed like an impossible breakthrough that RIM’s engineers promised their executive staff Apple simply couldn’t deliver. A few weeks later they ate their words as they opened up an actual iPhone and discovered a large battery surrounded by a tiny electronics package and a touch screen.
RIM has sort of an unusual executive setup, sporting two CEOs. The continuing downturn in both market share and the declining stock prices for RIM stock has shareholders demanding the ouster of RIM’s leadership. Stockholders are demanding that RIM figure out a way to counter the iPhone or let someone else take over the company.
Both CEOs own a lot of stock so a revolt of shareholders promises to be bloody. Stockholders were waiting for the RIM PlayBook to launch and put a lot of hope in that product. Alas, the PlayBook is turning out to be pretty much a flop. I have listed numerous issues of deficiency in the PlayBook, so I won’t repeat them here. Suffice it to say, the marketing man for RIM quit when they insisted on launching PlayBook despite known problems that were bound to ruin the product’s market.
Nokia has been so flummoxed by the iPhone/Android onslaught that their CEO, trained as a Microsoft executive before taking over at Nokia, recently threw up his hands and surrendered. Figuring they had to go with either Android or Microsoft’s mobile OS, he went with Ballmer.
Ballmer had Nokia over a barrel and forced them to accept a billion dollars in cash to use Windows Mobile in future Nokia Phones (I would have held out for two billion). The Nokia and Microsoft stockholders also revolted and there are demands for the mobile OS deal to be undone, and let Microsoft keep their money.
Speaking of Microsoft, despite the stock holdings of CEO Steve Ballmer and the “heads will roll” policy for speaking out against the dear leader, a virtual who’s who of Microsoft’s executive staff have quit in the last year. There have been calls for Ballmer’s resignation. There is no dispute that Microsoft’s market cap has been cut in half during the 10 year reign of the “great tongued one.” (Call up “Steve Ballmer” on the Bing search engine for images and count the number of pictures where Ballmer’s tongue is sticking out…)
Microsoft under Ballmer has not only lost a considerable amount of market cap but missed the smartphone revolution, the tablet revolution and seen the move to mobile platforms threaten to seriously hurt their PC OS money tree. Windows Vista, the Kin Phone and numerous other screw-ups would have killed off the CEO of most companies. Ballmer seems to grin his way through economic disasters that have hurt stockholders. How long will they let him stick his tongue out at their concerns?
Expect stockholders to punish the executives of smartphone companies that aren’t so smart. Look for the Apple iPhone patent infringement suits against all the Android Handset makers to draw blood this year. Recent Nielsen ratings show that Android has leveled off and that RIM and Nokia are still losing market share. All of this will certainly cause the early retirement of some well known CEOs.
That Greg’s Bite.
(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He’s also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: www.CottageIndustrySolar.com Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg’s art web site at http://www.gregmills.info He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org )