RIM’s Balsillie, Lazaridis Finally Resign – Too Little, Too Late?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on January 23, 2012

For me, it was never a question of “if” but “when” RIM’s two CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie will either step down or be shown the door. Outages, lawsuits, unacceptable quarters, listless sales, missed deadlines and trouble transitioning to BBX have all helped RIM’s reputation weaken over the last while and investor confidence touched a new low.

Therefore, I’m not surprised that Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, the co-chief executives of Research In Motion, have (finally) resigned following months of investor pressure for a change at the helm of the struggling BlackBerry maker. Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens AG executive who joined the Waterloo giant in late 2007, has been appointed the new RIM CEO.

Lazaridis and Balsillie will continue to be associated with the company but would no longer be key decision makers – as the former will become vice-chair while the latter will stay on only as a director, with no operational control of the company. Is it a step in the right direction for the troubled Canadian smartphone maker? I think so. However, does RIM have enough time to reinvent itself as a leaner and meaner company? I’m not so sure.

Though it was inevitable that co-CEO’s Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis will call it a day sooner than later, analysts are skeptical about Heins, a RIM insider who could potentially follow his predecessors on the company strategy. In that sense, Heins isn’t widely perceived as the “independent fresh hire” that could produce a new strategic direction for the company. Others claim that RIM’s change in management might prove to be one step forward, two steps back as the company might struggle with an “operations minded insider” calling the shots.

“There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership,” Lazaridis said in a statement yesterday. “RIM is entering a new phase, and we felt it was time for a new leader to take it through that phase and beyond.”

There’s no doubt that Heins has work cut out and he needs to act fast if RIM is to survive. The company’s revenue growth is slowing and RIM is under pressure in countries which it ruled for several years. The company’s next-generation BlackBerry 10 phones aren’t expected to launch until the second half, an unacceptable delay considering the current state of competition from Android and Apple. To make matter worse, developer enthusiasm on the BlackBerry platform is fading fast.

As our wonderful Matt Klassen mentioned in one of his posts, “one of the fundamental laws of both the natural world and the mobile market is simply, evolve or die, and if Blackberry maker RIM doesn’t learn this lesson soon, it may be too late.”

Lazaridis and Balsillie are now a thing of the past and their hand-picked successor is now at the helm, is Research In Motion finally headed for a revival of fortunes? I’m skeptical yet hopeful.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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{ 1 comment }

MinZhu January 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Don’t blame CEO, they want RIM win.

RIM has strange culture and self distruct political environment.

In RIM if a new hired person figure out major problem and introduce efficient approach, both manager and his buddy group member will proof their wrong approach works. just like someone point out driving a car is right way, pushing a car is wrong way, then both manager and his buddy group member will hate you, and proof that 3 person can also move the car by pushing it. cheating email will be sent to some vice president, saying like: see, the car moving, pushing a car is a natural part of the process, in order to deny new hired contribution of introducing skill of drive a car, they have to deny merit of driving a car.

It is very strange company culture and strange company political environment, it promote stealing and cheating skill. RIM’s management may be a typical instance in MBA course.

This culture deny or steal hardworking team members’ contribution/innovation, generate strange political environment, destroy RIM.

So don’t blame CEO, some of their VPs and VPs’ expert generate terrible culture and self destruct political environment.

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