The maker of the once ubiquitous BlackBerry— Research In Motion, has just announced that it is getting a change in leadership. The once-iconic company had been led by co-founder Mike Lazaridis and early investor Jim Balsillie for the past twenty years. They are being replaced by Thorsten Heins as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Heins was also appointed to RIM’s Board. Lazaridis and Balsillie also gave up their shared role as chairman of RIM’s board. Barbara Stymiest, an independent board member who once headed the Toronto Stock Exchange, will take over that role.
Thorsten Heins, currently one of RIM’s two chief operating officers, is a former Siemens AG executive who joined the Canadian company in late 2007.
Messrs. Balsillie and Lazaridis turned the e-mail smartphone into a phenomenon, but failed in recent years to keep up with the innovations in the mobile consumer electronic market. U.S. users have moved on to flashier touch-screen phones such as Apple’s iPhone and various competing models that run Google’s Android software, which are now the dominant players in the mobile market. The company’s stock price reflected that by dropping about 75 percent in the last year.
RIM said last month that new phones running a new operating system known as BlackBerry 10, deemed critical to the company’s future are not expected until the end of 2012, almost five years after the appearance of the first iPhone. Also, its PlayBook tablet has failed miserably in the market and is now selling under the company’s manufacturing costs.