RIM recently replaced co-Chief Executive Officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis with Thorsten Heins. Director Barbara Stymiest will take over as chairman, as the two also cede their co-chairmen positions; Lazaridis will become vice chairman while Balsillie will remain a board member without any operational role.
The stock dropped and there were concerns when Heins said there is no drastic change needed in the company struggling to compete with Google and Apple. “Heins is a product execution guy, he’s not a visionary,” said Ehud Gelblum, a New York-based analyst at Morgan Stanley. “Heins has to give people a reason why they need a BlackBerry. It’s going to be very difficult for him.”
RIM has lost 89 percent of its value since its peak in 2008 of more than $80 billion. Last quarter, sales fell about 6 percent to $5.17 billion and their global smartphone market share sank to 11 percent in the third quarter from 15 percent a year earlier.
“RIM had its era, but now it seems very hard to gain back market share in the smartphone market even if the top managers are changed,” said Mitsushige Akino, who oversees about $600 million at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. “The iPhone and Android are well established in the market.”
A problem is that RIM concentrated on the international market while the U.S. market evolved. “The biggest dilemma was the U.S. market went down the path of mobile high-end computing on a 4G platform, and our products were suited for a global marketplace,” Balsillie said. “The greatest dilemma was resources and capacities, where do you put them. We couldn’t do both.”
“They’re going to have to run fast,” said Rene Schuster, CEO of Telefonica SA’s German unit. “They have a good brand. The question is: are they now able to bring new innovation to the market so that when a consumer looks at the choice they’re going to pick RIM It’s going to be a challenge for them.”
Heins will be seeking a new marketing chief for the company, which is a role that Balsillie had been filling since RIM’s first marketing chief, Keith Pardy, left in March. “We are in a competitive world, but we believe in our own strength,” Heins said. “I’m here to fight.”