Linked by David Adams on Thu 16th Jun 2011 23:50 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless RIM's first quarter results are in and things don't look good. . . RIM said it shipped 13.2 million BlackBerrys and 500,000 PlayBooks. Keep in mind that number is shipped, not sold. That means many of those products could be in the channel or sitting on store shelves somewhere. The company also announced a "headcount reduction" to keep costs in line.
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RE: Comment by Tedstriker
by JonathanBThompson on Sat 18th Jun 2011 16:02 UTC in reply to "Comment by Tedstriker"
JonathanBThompson
Member since:
2006-05-26

FYI: I don't own any Blackberry hardware (based on observation, quite effective for butt-dialing, as I've been called several times that way), never have, and possibly never will, just to get that out of the way.

However, even having $3 billion cash can't change certain things about product development:

1. Where do you get people that are qualified to do the technical stuff?

2. How long does it take to get the people that are qualified to do the technical stuff?

3. Same thing goes for management droids as #1 and #2.

4. What if you're already at capacity for building space, where do you put more people, and how long does that take to make happen?

5. How long does it take people to meld into a cohesive, working team?

6. How do you cut down the communication/management overhead of trying to parallelize such development? Perhaps not all is easily parallelized. Ideally, it would be, but... there's that qualifier. It's too easy to get caught in constant meetings and not enough coding/testing.

A practical problem that occurs when you try to add headcount is that to do that, first you must suck off the resources of the group that's already doing that sort of work: in other words, before you ever add to the team, first you're effectively sapping their productivity. This all presumes that they even get meaningful applicants that stand a chance of being competent.

Next, let's assume they've finally got that squirrel: now what? It takes a certain amount of time and energy to get the sufficiently trained in at least the "tribal knowledge" that tends to exist in any such environment, and familiar with the project they're working on. All the while, all the new employees are a complete unknown for their abilities/style/etc. because, realistically, no interview process can tell you everything useful to know about a candidate.

If they're not also hiring new managers to deal with the influx of people (this is the assumption that "multiplying the number of workers cuts development time by a similar 1/n ratio where n is the multiplier of total old+new workers compared to previous workers") then that's likely not going to work well, either. However, they also need to ramp up, and hopefully, considering the environment, they're able to take the place of any of their underlings if required, otherwise, it's the blind leading the... we won't go there.

All of this happening presumes a recognition and agreement by upper management that this needs to happen to start with, including agreement that the money needs to be spent, getting the money approved, etc. all of which tends to take time. It's completely unpredictable how long it'll take to find the people that are competent, available, and accept any offers to become employees, and then have them get up to speed. Maybe they'll find them very quickly, but then again, maybe some that interviewed well are duds in practice. Maybe they'll spend many months (or longer) looking for people, but they won't be available: location is very important when it comes to finding a workforce. Could they outsource? Well, sure... but that has its own issues, too. For getting things done quickly, if they could first figure out how to coordinate all the moving parts, that may be the fastest, cheapest route (when you consider the whole package) by going to an existing firm that does whole projects for product R&D, because they already have a management team and structure in place, and the people are known quantities and are already there. Of course, that's all assuming they're not already busy on other projects ;)

So, with all that, throwing money at things doesn't guarantee that they'll get done any faster: if that were the case, surely Microsoft wouldn't have been so far behind the schedule in getting Vista out, right? (Actually, admittedly, there's a lot more involved... that could take a whole book).

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