Research In Motion decided to split the roles of chair and CEO after an independent committee found that doing so would constitute an “appropriate solution for RIM shareholders.”
The committee’s report, which RIM posted on its Website, suggested that the company follow the policy of other Canadian companies, which generally split the roles of independent chairperson and CEO. “The strong opposition to non-independent chairs in Canada should outweigh the other considerations,” its report added, “including current practice in the United States and in RIM’s ecosystem.”
That represents something of a reversal for RIM, which operated for years with its co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, also serving as joint chairmen. On Jan. 22, RIM announced that Thorsten Heins would take over CEO duties. Barbara Stymiest, previously a member of the Royal Bank of Canada’s Group Executive, was named independent board chair; rumors of her becoming RIM’s next chairperson had circulated since early January.
The independent committee’s report can be seen as yet another indicator of RIM’s attempts to realign its course in the face of significant global competition. Once the company that defined the smartphone industry, RIM has watched its U.S. market share erode in recent quarters thanks to the combined assault of Apple’s iPhone and a growing family of Google Android devices. Now its hopes rest largely on BlackBerry 10, a next-generation operating system slated to appear on a host of new devices later in 2012. If that software platform fails to hold its own, RIM’s market share could further degrade.
Meanwhile, RIM is also pushing back at Web chatter suggesting that its just-introduced “Bold Team” superheroes are part of some new advertising campaign. The spandex-clad foursome first appeared on RIM’s corporate blog Jan. 27, accompanied by a note claiming that: “Four bold characters emerged from your #BeBold resolutions, and it’s clear to us that all are bravely stepping out of 2011 and into a 2012 filled with unlimited possibilities.”
Twitter users responded with confusion, wondering whether RIM’s creative endeavor was a “joke” or some sort of mockery. Various tech publications appeared similarly nonplussed (“You’d expect to put some effort into advertising,” Gizmodo sniffed. “RIM is completely out of touch.”), and RIM rushed to downplay the whole thing.
“We’ve noticed The BeBold Team has received a lot of attention over the last couple of days, and wanted to clarify-this infographic is just intended to be a bit of fun,” read an update on RIM’s blog. “We decided to organize the data and share it in a fun way, and the result is the infographic. This is not a new ad campaign.”
In the meantime, without superhero assistance, RIM’s larger transition continues apace.