Thorsten Heins’ tenure as CEO of Research In Motion has been met with mixed reactions ever since he was first named to the position and a recent public appearance has only stirred the pot some more.
Heins was in Toronto this past Thursday to help celebrate the grand opening of the new Porsche Design store at Yonge and Bloor. Porsche Design is a maker an array of high-end luxury products, such as sunglasses and luggage, all meant to emulate the look and feel of the famous Porsche sports cars. RIM is connected to this company because, together, the two companies made a new BlackBerry model called the Porsche Design P’9981.
The handset retails for a whopping $1,900, so it’s clear that the average consumer isn’t the target audience for this product. Considering the price of this phone and the luxury party that accompanied its arrival in Canada, one need only check message boards or mention this phone to the every-man to drum up anti-RIM discourse.
And why wouldn’t there be?
Last week it was revealed that Heins will be paid over $10 million for this past fiscal year despite being named to the position in January and not really having done anything to prove himself. To make optics even worse, should he flop in his new role RIM will be forced to pay him over $20 million worth of compensation over two years regardless.
It was also reported last week that the former co-CEOs of RIM, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille, would be compensated $12 million.
This is a lot of money going around to just three individuals. The fact that earlier this year it was reported that RIM would be forced to cut 2,000 jobs worldwide will make people upset. So for Heins to be at this exclusive party to show off a product that only the super-rich will be able to afford doesn’t bode well for public perception of RIM.
With that said, however, there are always two sides to an argument. In this case, there’s certainly good that can come about to appealing to the world’s richest people.
For one thing, since the Porsche Design P’9981 is intended to be a luxury-only item, it definitely has celebrity appeal and positive attention from famous athletes, actors and musicians certainly wouldn’t hurt RIM in this celebrity-obsessed world. It also should be stated that it wasn’t really a fault of Heins’ to be attending the party since, at the very least, it was a show of good faith to a company that RIM has collaborated with.
Ultimately, the “PorscheBerry” isn’t going to swing the company drastically negatively nor positively. Even though there’s been a lot of unfortunate press surrounding RIM recently, trying to branch out into a different consumer market than its competitors can’t hurt the company as it tries to regain its footing in the smartphone war.