After repeated pressure from RIM’s investors on Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis to resign from their roles as co-CEO and co-Chairman, the company finally succumbed to pressure by announcing Barbara Stymiest as the new chairman of the board and Thorsten Heins as the new CEO. RIM’s stock plunged more than 13% after the announcement, driven mostly by concerns that the new CEO had no significant prior experience in the mobile consumer devices industry. However, the stock has subsequently shown improvement as many investors are confident that Heins will aid in changing the company’s attitude towards innovation and a new direction.
Heins admitted in a recent interview with CNBC that the company was clearly losing ground to companies like Google and Apple. He also said that there had been an eminent paradigm shift in the industry and RIM had failed to change course to match this shift. This is clearly backed up by statistics by Comscore which show that Apple and Google (combined) currently own 75.6% of the market share in the U.S while RIM’s share has dropped to 16.6%. Investors clearly want to see some fighting spirit from RIM, but this interview seemed to show little of it.
In another interview with Crackberry.com, Heins emphasized that RIM will surely change according to market needs. The present situation however demands that the company focus on its strengths and regain lost ground in the all important US market. He went on to say that RIM has been constantly evolving, both in terms of software as well as hardware. He repeatedly stressed that the company now needs to act on its strengths before prioritising anything else and that BlackBerry was an integrated solution, with the hardware, software, the services and the network as its pillars.
Most of this is extremely disappointing to analysts, as Heins has been simply regurgitating what RIM leaders have been saying for months, but have failed to implement. However, it is interesting to note that the company finally has a CEO who also wants to understand the competition. Heins explained that dedicated teams were in place to test phones from both Apple and Android. The key in these platforms, he said, is the user experience which RIM has failed to optimize as per customer needs. He stated that the improvements in the user experience of rival products haven’t gone unnoticed and there have been plans of including these improvements in the next release.