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January 23, 2012

RIM Co-CEOs Step Down, COO Thorsten Heins Takes Over

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

Canada’s BlackBerry (News - Alert) maker Research In Motion (RIM) has been in trouble for more than a year, struggling to stay competitive in the smartphone race where rivals like Apple and Samsung (News - Alert) are taking control. Market reports indicate that in the smartphone space, BlackBerry has been continuously losing marketshare, while iPhones and Google Android (News - Alert)-based devices have been experiencing rapid growth. Consequently, the company is undergoing significant strategic changes. And the most recent one is at the helm.

After nearly twenty years of service, co-chief executive officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are stepping down as CEOs , and handing over the responsibility to an insider, chief operating officer (COO) Thorsten Heins. Media reports suggest that it is all part of board and management reorganization.  

Based on an interview given to The Globe and Mail, Business Insider quoted Heins, as saying, “It's a fantastic growth story and it's not coming to an end ... What you will see with me is rigor and flawless execution.”

He added, “What you will see with me is rigor and flawless execution.”

According to a Business Insider report, the ex-CEOs Balsillie and Lazaridis are not leaving the company entirely. As per this report, the two will continue to be on the board, with Balsillie as a director and Lazaridis as vice chairman. The two executives played an instrumental role in the initial growth of the company, but were not prepared to compete with powerful rivals like Apple (News - Alert) and Samsung.

Heins told The Globe and Mail that everything is in place for the company to grow and succeed in a rapidly-changing smartphone sector. However, market watchers think that RIM has been left behind. Nevertheless, as per The Globe and Mail report, RIM is looking for a new chief marketing officer to help repair the damage to BlackBerry. In addition, Heins also hinted taking a licensing route to find new growth avenues. The company plans to license RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 operating system to other handset manufacturers.

The new CEO told The Globe and Mail that RIM is now refocusing its vast resources on developing a new line of wireless devices, powered by a revamped OS. RIM plans to launch them later this year. As per this report, RIM’s new OS will be based on software expertise it acquired with the purchase of Ottawa-based QNX Software Systems in 2010.

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Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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