RIM replaces top management

Posted by Emma Woollacott

After continuing pressure from shareholders, RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have stepped down, to be replaced by chief operating officer Thorsten Heins.

"There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now," says Lazaridis. 

"With BlackBerry 7 now out, PlayBook 2.0 shipping in February and BlackBerry 10 expected to ship later this year, the company is entering a new phase, and we felt it was time for a new leader to take it through that phase and beyond.  Jim, the Board and I all agreed that leader should be Thorsten Heins."

With the company's market share having plummeted over the last couple of years, thanks to stiff competition from Android vendors and Apple, several of the company's largest investors had been clamoring for change. According to ComScore, its share of the US smartpphone market is now down to under 17 percent.

But it doesn't look as if Heins is planning major changes to the company's strategy. He's pledged to continue focusing on the planned BlackBerry 10 operating system - plagued by delays, but now set for release by the year's end.

"Mike and Jim took a bold step 18 months ago when RIM purchased QNX to shepherd the transformation of the BlackBerry platform for the next decade," says Heins.

"We are more confident than ever that was the right path. It is Mike and Jim’s continued unwillingness to sacrifice long-term value for short-term gain which has made RIM the great company that it is today.  I share that philosophy and am very excited about the company’s future."

Barbara Stymiest, who's been on the RIM board since 2007, will become the new chairman, a position previously held by Lazaridis and Balsillie. They will both remain board members, with Lazaridis also chairing a new innovation committee.