January 23, 2012
Research In Motion Names New CEO
Did Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the co-chief executives and co-chairmen of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM), finally get the message? The two heads of the embattled company announced this weekend that they would both be stepping down to be replaced by RIM veteran Thorsten Heins as of today, reports Richard Blackden for The Daily Mail UK.
RIM´s line of smart phones heralded the age of always-connected and often distracted business executives and on-the-go business leaders with their products that were once so ubiquitous, they were referred to as “Crackberry”, instead of their given name, BlackBerry.
Ontario Canada-based Research In Motion was founded in 1985 by Lazaridis, and with Balsillie, oversaw its growth into a multibillion-dollar company that could apparently do no wrong.
The company´s spectacular energy and heralded smart phones however found themselves stopped cold by Apple and Google´s entry into the mobile market. All of a sudden, the once-prized and button-festooned BlackBerry looked old-fashioned and out of date.
RIM, seeing its devices languish on shelves, sought to rush to market an iPad competitor, the RIM PlayBook. However incomplete features and a buggy operating system left a bad taste with customers and it too was quickly dismissed. Unpopular hardware was not helped with recent network outages which left remaining fans of the device fuming.
The company is badly in need of rejuvenation in both the design and operational sides of the business. “If there are no meaningful signs of an imminent turnaround then I think the spotlight will turn back on to the assets that RIM holds and who they might be attractive to,” CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood told Reuters.
“The annual analyst event in May will now become the focal point to the unveiling of Thorsten´s vision. We know the speed with which you make strategic changes and implement them is absolutely critical because the mobile phone business will not stand still.”
Heins, a former Siemens AG chief technology officer, appeared to suggest he would stick to the current strategy, but analysts expect that to change in the coming months, reports Kate Holton and Paul Sandle of Reuters.
Heins, 54, has worked at RIM since 2007 and most recently served as one of the company´s chief operating officers, overseeing the company´s hardware, software and sales. The New York Times noted that Heins “pledged during an interview on Sunday to follow the strategy Mr. Balsillie and Mr. Lazaridis set in place” -- a strategy that has so far yielded a series of losses and damaging delays for the company.
Heins said he would be pushing for more rigorous product development and place greater emphasis on executing on the company´s marketing and development plans.
Some analysts are calling for RIM to license its software or integrate its email package, a strategy that many analysts and investors have thought the company might pursue. Heins is not enamored with that option but said he would be open to discussions of that nature.
Consultant John Strand told Reuters reporters: “RIM have had big challenges in the past and they succeeded in moving from a corporate product to be also a consumer product, to get a foot in the consumer market and very few people expected them to do that. Now they have to reinvent themselves again.”
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