Jan. 23 - Research in Motion's Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have bowed to investor pressure and resigned as co-CEOs as the maker of BlackBerry struggles to regain momentum in the ultra-competitive smartphone market it once dominated. Andrew Potter reports.
There was a time when it seemed everyone in the world of business was carrying a BlackBerry. But in recent years the device's maker Research in Motion has seen its market share slide, as it failed to keep up with more innovative competitors like Apple and Google. In response to investor pressure the two men who built the Canadian company from the ground up have stepped down as joint CEOs. Mike Lazaridis started RIM in 1985, before being joined by Jim Balsillie. They grew RIM into a global business with $20 billion in sales last year. Thorsten Heins will replace them. He's been with RIM since 2007, and says he knows what he wants from the company. SOUNDBITE: THORSTEN HEINS, RESEARCH IN MOTION PRESIDENT AND CEO, SAYING (English): "Never lose this innovation spirit but also make sure that when we say a product is defined that we move decisively into execution mode and get the product done in good quality, in good time and also at good cost." Analysts are cautious. Heins is a key lieutenant of Lazaridis and Balsillie. It's feared he might not be the transformational leader the company needs at a time when its share price is hitting eight-year lows, falling 90 percent since 2008. RIM seemed blindsided by Apple's introduction of the iPhone in 2007, and was slow to launch a competitor to the iPad. Its tablet, the PlayBook, got a lukewarm reception and sales have been slow. Worst was a damaging outage to much of the BlackBerry network last year. One of Heins' first acts as CEO was to emphasise the company's focus on customers. Investors will be watching closely. Andrew Potter, Reuters