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January 23rd 2012 9:33 am

Some thoughts on RIM's CEO switchover

Last night when the news broke that RIM's co-CEO's were being replaced by Thorsten Heins, the company's COO, I commented on Twitter that this was a "first step to saving that troubled company." Removing Balsillie and Lazaridis was absolutely the right move; despite having built RIM up from nothing, they were clearly not capable of navigating an industry that had changed dramatically in just the past few years.

What's disappointing is that there is no indication that RIM's new leader is going to seize on this transfer of power to put the company on a new path. Anyone who read my piece from last week (gdgt.com­/discuss­/it­-s­-time­-for­-rim­-to­-abandon­-blac...) knows that I believe they need to either abandon BlackBerry 10 and focus on the company's remaining core strengths or find a buyer. Instead we get a conference call with Heins this morning where he says he's going to more or less stay the course, with the only "major change" that they will start to focus more on consumer marketing.

Not sure why they need to switch CEOs to start focusing on consumer marketing, but you can guess that this feels to me like a major missed opportunity for RIM to bring in some fresh thinking. It's possible that Heins is just being publicly deferential to Balsillie and Lazaridis, who will remain on RIM's board, while planning to make some more serious changes, and so I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt right now. That said, what RIM needs right now is someone who is going to challenge this moribund company and force it to make some tough decisions about what to do and where to go.

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10 replies

This is how CEOs always act. They understate their intentions to keep the employees from freaking out, and then make drastic changes as sudden as possible. They have "no plans" until of course they do.
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This move seems perfect to me. Complete the transition to BB10, get some licensees on board to strengthen the ecosystem, and do so with swifter execution.

Can't wait!
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^ wishful thinking *rolleyes*
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Would rather be a wishful thinker than a bitter troll. *also rollseyes*
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He has to say those things so that ML and JB can have a more graceful exit. ML will be given a lesser role over the next 6 months...especially if Heins actually shows indications of making positive changes and delivering on all the promises. This of course remains to be seen.

I for one would love to see more competition in OS space. Don't like the duopoly direction were are heading in right now. Not sure what the impact of WP7 will be just yet, but assuming they do well, that is still only 3 competitors.
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this hein dude is a clown. he's the final nail in the coffin for rim.
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When I heard that Heins is staying the course, I thought to myself: "RIM is not going to be around much longer..." The dual-CEO bureaucracy, in my opinion, hindered innovation from coming to market in a timely fashion. Powerful QNX-based handsets on par with at least WP7 should have been launched within a quarter of the Playbook (which itself should have launched with dedicated messaging/email/scheduling). So to me, it is not a question of marketing, but rather what is being marketed... the status quo from the Blackberry line, or truly innovative products. If that cannot be done, then they need to take their strengths and go multi-platform as an application services company.
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Would it be fair to say that RIM need to pull off something miraculous if they are to avoid being the next Kodak? They owned this category but have managed to stuff it up.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel, most people thought Motorola was dead, but they've started to make a comeback. Anything is possible.
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no. had google not bought motorola for their patent portfolio, moto would also have died a slow, painful death due to nimble asian competitors samsung, htc, et al.
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They're in a bad spot. If they were going to change leadership, it should have happened several years ago, not now. They're already waist deep in building blackberry 10. They would be throwing away a lot if they bailed on it. So at this point the direction already seems set in motion, so I'm not sure what a CEO change will really do for them, especially if it's just another one of the higher ups in the company. It's not like this will make the new platform come out sooner.
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