Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie step down as co-CEOs of RIM, appointing Thorsten Heins in their place.
Research In Motion underwent a massive
shakeup Jan. 22, with longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie
stepping aside in favor of Thorsten Heins, who now assumes the titles of both president
According to a statement issued by RIM,
Lazaridis will become vice chair of RIM's board, as well as chair of the board's
newly created innovation committee. That statement also suggested he will work
closely with Heins "to offer strategic counsel, provide a smooth transition and
continue to promote the BlackBerry brand worldwide." It remains to be seen how
much influence he exerts in his new role.
Meanwhile, Balsillie will apparently
remain a member of the board. Barbara Stymiest, previously a member of the
Royal Bank of Canada's Group Executive, has been named independent board chair;
rumors of her becoming RIM's next chairperson have circulated since early January
Heins is a company insider, having
joined RIM from Siemens Communications Group in 2007. After a stint as senior
vice president for hardware engineering, he became RIM's chief operating
officer for product and sales in August 2011.
Once a dominant smartphone maker, RIM
in recent quarters has seen its market share tumble in the face of aggressive
competition from the likes of Apple's iOS and Google Android. One of Heins'
first public statements alluded to the challenges facing the company as it
attempts to adjust to this shifting paradigm: "We have learned from those
challenges and, I believe, we have and will become a stronger company as a
By the end of 2012, RIM plans on
issuing an all-new line of devices running the next-generation BlackBerry 10
operating system. In addition, it will issue a long-awaited software update for
its BlackBerry-branded PlayBook tablet in February.
Until those BlackBerry 10 devices
arrive, RIM will depend on its product line running BlackBerry OS 7 to hold the
market share line against competitors. For some time, RIM executives have
characterized the company's current period as a "transition." It's now
seemingly up to Heins to see this period through.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter