EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists

Introduction to EE204 and Introductory Case:
RIM 2013


  1. Note to the Student: How to Study and Discuss Cases (HBS course materials)
  2. Product Lifecycle
  3. Review EE204 website
    1. Classroom discussion guidelines
    2. Grading
    3. Written analysis guidelines
  4. RIM 2013 (will also be handed out in class)


In our first class we will review the objectives for EE204, the subjects that will be covered, and techniques for each student to optimize his or her own learning experience in EE204.

In the remaining time, an introductory case (RIM 2013) will be handed out in class and discussed in order to illustrate the case method of instruction.

Case Summary

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins faces a stiff argument both inside and outside the company on RIM’s prospects for the future. Heins was appointed CEO following the 2012 forced resignations of co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis after a long struggle with its board, pressure from investors, and a widely circulated anonymous employee email citing weak management and a loss of passion and vision.

"We believe that BlackBerry cannot succeed if we tried to be everybody's darling and all things to all people. Therefore, we plan to build on our business focus.” Heins went on to explain that consumer-friendly features like entertainment applications are not important to the company's core customers. Mr. Heins’ comments were a response to the declining fortunes at RIM. The company announced that revenues are dropping and it will cut 2,000 jobs. Heins couldn’t help but wonder if his strategy were correct and whether the actions and plans were going to reverse the company’s negative slide.

Discussion Questions

  1. How did BlackBerry lose its world leadership position?
  2. Do you agree with RIM CEO Thorsten Heins' market analysis, strategy, and product plans?
  3. What if anything would you change?
  4. How successful do you think RIM will be in March 2014? What metrics would you use to quantify your position?