August 21, 2012

RIM Looks To New Leadership For UK, Ireland

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

While many consumers likely have looked to update and replace their BlackBerry device, the handset maker has looked this week to make its own replacement. But in the case of Research in Motion Ltd, the company has looked to new leadership for its United Kingdom and Ireland offices.

On Tuesday the company announced that the latest in a series of management changes and shakeups that have been implemented under new CEO Thorstein Heins.

Rob Orr, who has been serving as vice-president for product management for Europe, the Middle East and Africa will step into the role of managing director for U.K. and Ireland beginning on September 1. Orr will replace outgoing managing director Stephen Bates, who will reportedly take on a newly created role as regional managing director for Europe.

In this new position Bates will be responsible for customer engagement and market responsiveness across the company´s European base.

On Tuesday ZDNet reported that Bates´ move is “part of plans to ensure the RIM team in Europe is optimally structured to be fully focused on selling BlackBerry 7 smartphones and BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, and is prepared and ready for the launch of BlackBerry 10 in the first quarter of 2013.”

This shakeup is just the latest for the embattled mobile phone maker that has seen its share of the marketplace eroded by Apple´s iOS iPhones and Google´s Android devices. The company has seen a steady string of changes since Thorsten Heins replaced longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in January of this year.

2012 has been marked with a near steady stream of outgoing staff from the Waterloo, Ontario-based handset maker. These have included its chief legal officer, head of global sales and its head of software. The shakeup has also been global. In July of this year the head of the company´s Australian and New Zealand operations stepped down after just a few months on the job.

RIM, which had announced its upcoming BlackBerry 10 at its BlackBerry World Developer Conference earlier this year, appears to be hedging its bets on the new device, which are set to launch next year, while still supporting its current generation of BlackBerry devices.

As noted RIM has lost ground to the iPhone and Android devices and sales for 2012 are down more than 50 percent this year to date. Even globally the BlackBerry is still on shaky ground as a player in the smartphone area, as comScore recently noted that RIM´s global market share for the smartphones stood at just 10.7% in June of this year.

However, sales in the United Kingdom remain strong, with 8 million subscribers as of last November, and the U.K. now accounts for 10 percent of its total consolidated revenue, which indicates a strong demand for a modestly-sized market. RIM maintained about 11 percent of the U.K. market in April (source: Ipsos Mori), while the iPhone had about 19 percent and the Android devices maintained another 15%.

BlackBerry´s woes are also not limited to the market share gains of Apple and Android devices. Recently a report from Ars Technica suggested that RIM could be overtaken by Microsoft´s Windows Phone platform.

This likely means there will likely be more shakeups at RIM.