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RIM finally grabs ahold of its future, dumps its past... sorta

The writing has been on the wall for months, but the co-CEO's of Research in Motion (RIM) are getting the boot. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have shared power at RIM for over twenty years and oversaw the company's dominance at the start of the smartphone revolution. In their place will be a new, solitary President and CEO: 54-year-old Thorsten Heins.

RIM's new CEO, Thorsten Heins, pictured on the left [Source: Getty Images]
Heins joined RIM in 2007 and was previously the Waterloo, Ontario-based company's Chief Operating Officer. Before landing at RIM, Heins' most prominent role was a Chief Technology Officer for the communications division of Siemens.

I. Rearranging the Deck Chairs?
For those expecting a big change for RIM now that someone new is in the driver’s seat, you’ll likely be disappointed. According to The Globe and Mail, Heins has been groomed by both Balsillie and Lazaridis over the past few years to slide into the role as CEO; so it’s not like the company is getting an injection of fresh blood.
Lazaridis and Balsillie, who both will remain on RIM's board, had kind words for their protégé. “There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership,” said Lazaridis. “Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now.”
“I agree this is the right time to pass the baton to new leadership, and I have complete confidence in Thorsten, the management team and the company,” added Balsillie. “I remain a significant shareholder and a Director and, of course, they will have my full support.”

In addition, Heins has no plans to change RIM’s current course when it comes to its product development. “There’s no need for me to shake this company up or turn it upside down,” said Heins. “We are not at a point where we try to define a strategy, that’s done.”
Heins went on to tout RIM’s upcoming PlayBook 2.0 software and the delayed Blackberry 10 operating system. “BlackBerry 7 has been well received.  We are very excited about PlayBook 2.0 and BlackBerry 10.  The reception of our products at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was encouraging.
“RIM earned its reputation by focusing relentlessly on the customer and delivering unique mobile communications solutions. We intend to build on this heritage to expand BlackBerry’s leadership position.”

II. From Prized Jewel to Falling Star 

Blackberry smartphones were the prized possessions of businessmen/businesswomen (and consumers) -- the smartphones were even lovingly referred to as Crackberries.

Former RIM Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis 

However, the company was not agile enough to stay ahead of the game when new competitors entered the fray; especially once Apple's iPhone hit the market in 2007. What once was a small Chihuahua nipping at the heels of RIM in the beginning turned into a snarling pit bull once the full onslaught of Android-based smartphones started flooding the market.
When it comes to its current U.S. market share, things look bleak for RIM. According to Nielsen, Android smartphones have 46.3 percent of the market, while Apple's iPhone family has 30 percent market share. RIM has fallen from its commanding lead in the sector just a few short years ago to a meager 14.9 percent.

The numbers are even more sobering when you look at a three-month snapshot of smartphone sales. Those number shows that 51.7 recent smartphone acquirers went for Android devices, 37 percent flocked to iPhones, and just 6 percent crawled to RIM's Blackberries.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, RIM, The Globe and Mail

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RE: It's about time
By retrospooty on 1/23/2012 10:27:52 AM , Rating: 2
"RIM is not in trouble. You're just not really looking at the big picture. "

I think you are missing the big picture. You look at total sales dropping in an industry that is growing rapidly and its a problem. Once you become obsolete, you are not getting it back. As any company does, RIM shows data that makes them look the best. Year over year the sales are OK, but you have to look at the chart above and see that Q4 sales are tanked... And this is AFTER the release of OS7 devices that RIM (and Pirks LOL) said would save their sales this year. It sold puny amounts. People just dont want it.

Also, there is talk all over the place of RIM just selling the whole thing off while it still has some value. Getting rid of these 2 yahoo's as CEO is the first step of that. They are living in denial and were an obstacle. Now that obstacle is clear. The end result is NOT to get RIM back to the top. Its too late for that. The end result is to sell the company and its IP before it loses too much more value. QNX could have had a chance 2-3 years ago, but its too late and its not even out yet on a phone and wont be until Q4 2012 IF they can release on schedule. At that point we will be close to IOS6 and Android 5. It would have to be a home run OS to succeed by then, and it just wont be. It will be lesser than the competition and years too late.

RIM's last stronghold is of course, corporate accounts. but now, even the IT firms that want the added security are being heavily pressured by end users to get rid of thier Blackberries, and they are caving... RIM is done, its just a matter of time.

I bet any amount of money that they dont survive the year as an independent company. They are already shopping buyers.

RE: It's about time
By x10Unit1 on 1/23/2012 10:47:13 AM , Rating: 2
Once you become obsolete, you are not getting it back.

While I understand what you are getting at, can't agree with it. If I remember correctly, Motorola's mobile division was doing pretty bad in the dumb phone age and then came along the Razor. Also, the original Motorola Droid was amazing as well.

While it sucks to lose that market share, RIM had plenty of opportunities to continue to innovate and stay the leader. They failed to do that and paid the price.

I have had BBs before and I did enjoy them but I do enjoy android/iphones way more.

RE: It's about time
By retrospooty on 1/23/2012 11:07:28 AM , Rating: 2
"If I remember correctly, Motorola's mobile division was doing pretty bad in the dumb phone age and then came along the Razor."

Agreed, but hardware and software are different babies. It was meant as a comment on the current RIM situation. Android and IOS are so entrenched, that it will be next to impossible for RIM to come out with QNX 1 year from now and make much progress with it. Even if it is equal to the IOS and Android versions when it is released.

RE: It's about time
By Pirks on 1/23/2012 4:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
Android and IOS are so entrenched, that it will be next to impossible for RIM to come out with QNX 1 year from now and make much progress with it
RIM has more time than just 1 year to make a significant progress with QNX, so your argument doesn't look valid at all.

RE: It's about time
By retrospooty on 1/23/2012 7:15:25 PM , Rating: 3
RIM wont be RIM in a year. It will be patents in another companies umbrella... But you go with that.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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