Research In Motion has appointed two new executives to its board in an effort to pull the troubled company back from the edge. The corporation has hired a new chief marketing officer and a new chief operating officer, filling two important positions.
Kristian Tear is the new chief operating officer. He was most recently known as an executive vice president at Sony Mobile Communications AB and was also a corporate vice president at Sony Ericsson in Munich. The primary role, at least initially, for Tear will be to handle the logistics behind the much-ballyhooed launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system. He will also oversee “operational functions” for handhelds and services, with research and development, manufacturing, global sales, and supply management as part of his purview.
Frank Boulben joins the RIM executive team as the new chief marketing officer and he will have his work cut out for him, to say the least. Boulben was most recently known as the executive vice president for strategy, marketing and sales from LightSquared. Prior to his tenure there, Boulben worked in a number of senior marketing positions with companies like Vodafone and Orange Group.
“Kristian and Frank bring extensive knowledge of the rapidly changing wireless global market and will help RIM as we sharpen our focus on delivering long-term value to our stakeholders,” said Thorsten Heins, RIM’s new-ish president and chief executive officer. ”Most importantly, both Kristian and Frank possess a keen understanding of the emerging trends in mobile communications and computing.”
The marketing position has been vacant at RIM for a long time and, as a result, the company has struggled in sending its message. That may be partially to blame for their tumbling fortunes over the last several months, so the arrival of Boulben has to be seen as a welcome sign. It’s hard to imagine that news of the appointment will magically swing the company fortunes around, to be sure, but it does appear that RIM may be getting its ducks in a row.
“Frankly, RIM’s marketing and messaging has been a disaster,” said Colin Gillis, a technology analyst with BGC Partners in New York. “The company has strengths, but they have not done a good job of bringing those out to the marketplace.”
Boulben will certainly be the more high profile of the two hires. His experiences with Orange and Vodafone have to be seen as an advantage to RIM, as his task to get the message out will be a difficult climb against a group of anxiously wary investors. He’ll be responsible, in large part, for making the Waterloo company a viable consumer brand. To say that won’t be an easy task would be an understatement.