New RIM CEO Thorsten Heins Needs to Make BlackBerry 10 a Top Priority
Research In Motion underwent a sizable corporate shakeup Jan. 22, with longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepping aside in favor of little-known insider Thorsten Heins. Whatever the immediate impact of that changeover, RIM s longer-term health still hinges on its upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform, and it seems Heins' immediate goal is to keep RIM's ship aimed straight toward BlackBerry 10.
In one of his first public appearances as CEO of RIM a corporate video posted to YouTube--Heins conceded that RIM needs to tighten its operations somewhat to better compete against the likes of Apple's iOS and Google Android. "I think we need to get a bit more discipline in our own processes," he said. "I want to spend more time on prototyping, on exploring, on research and development."
But in many ways, RIM's fate was sealed some time ago, when it opted to pursue BlackBerry 10 as the best way to reverse its eroding market share. Devices running the QNX-based operating system will appear at an as-yet-unannounced point in late 2012. Until then, RIM is relying on a product line running BlackBerry OS 7 to retain customers; the upside, of course, is that IT administrators and others who manage BlackBerry devices for businesses have several months before RIM wholeheartedly embarks on major changes.
"By making a break and bringing in new blood RIM is able to start a new chapter," Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in a Jan. 23 research note. "We believe Thorsten Heins, a seasoned Siemens executive, is the smoothest near-term replacement. While it does not necessarily change anything overnight, it does create a fresh chapter and open doors and possibilities."
That being said, Misek added, "until BB10 handsets launch, we believe RIM will continue to be challenged and could even see a loss."