Meet RIM's new CEO: Thorsten Heins to adjust consumer market focus

Meet RIM's new CEO: Thorsten Heins to adjust consumer market focus
2011 was the year when RIM’s shares nosedived and financials reflected the company’s inability to match Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android on the consumer market, so the company starts 2012 with a change: the company’s former chief operating officer Thorsten Heins takes over as CEO and president, and brings decades of technological experience in the hope to execute right and timely the PlayBook 2.0 and introduce the first BlackBerry 10 devices this year. 

So while there’s seemingly no change in RIM’s plans for the future, the company seems to have realized that it needs to execute its plans faster and more effectively, and that’s what brings Heins to the CEO position. 

Who is Thorsten Heins?

The new chief executive is 54 years old, a native of Germany, who arrived at RIM in 2007, after serving as chief technology officer at German tech giant Siemens AG. He has extensive experience in research and development, customer services, sales and product management, all departments where he served at Siemens for a combined total of over 20 years. As a COO at RIM, his previous duties included supervision of the hardware and software developments. 

What are RIM’s new CEO priorities?

In a short interview, posted by the Canadian company right after it announced the CEO shuffle, Heins stressed that his mission is to take RIM to “the next phase.” As a starter for this, he welcomes innovation and prototyping and this might be a key aspect of his work as RIM is looking to reinvent its identity with BB10.

Heins underlined execution as the second big priority where the Canadian phone maker could do better. 2011 is a glaring example of this: the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet had to wait nearly nine months to get native email and calendar applications. The first BlackBerry 10 devices were also delayed to late 2012, driving RIM shares further down.

“When you say we’re bringing a product to market, you make sure you execute,” the new CEO said.

Finally, the list of changes concludes with marketing. Heins said he will hire a new marketing head to better communicate the Canadians’ progress. The BlackBerry is still popular in enterprises, but it’s lost ground to iOS and Android among consumers, and communicating the benefits of the new BB10 platform and PlayBook 2.0 will be key to recapturing market share. RIM, currently has around 16.6% of the US smartphone market, trailing behind Android with 46.9% and iOS with 28.7%.

“We will be working the consumer market not at the expense of the enterprise,” Heins said. “I’m not here to retreat from the U.S. market. I’m here to take it up.”

The ex-co-CEO duo shadow of influence

Thorsten Heins was appointed as the new CEO after nearly two decades of RIM being run by the Mike Lazaridis-Jim Balsillie duet. Lazaridis found the company back in 1984. The two CEOs voluntarily decided to step down as pressure from investors grew, but they both remain in the company’s board.

Additionally, Heins will still receive guidance and advise from the former co-CEO duo, so there’s still a lingering shade of doubt about how big of a change the new chief executive, who worked in their shadow for four years, will bring.

“He’s really excelled in every department he’s been responsible for,” Lazaridis commented on why he was picked. “He became the natural choice.”

source: BlackBerry, Joy of Tech



1. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

A step in the right direction for RIM, now it just may be possible to make it a four horse race between Apple, Google, Microsoft, and RIM

2. ibap

Posts: 871; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

I hope they pull it off in some fashion that preserves a really good keyboard. I almost switched to a Blackberry, but at the time I had an Epic 4G and that keyboard, along with the big screen, was the winner. I had almost gone with the Helio Ocean double-slider, when the company folded, but I'd like to see that type of system again.

3. dyson

Posts: 5; Member since: Dec 11, 2011

That guy looks barely 30 years old in the first pic.

4. snowgator

Posts: 3624; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

So many built in advantages still exist for RIM: Name recognition, fan base, money reserve, still good market share, and a high profit per handset. But I just do not feel RIM can continue to do both hardware and software development as their company is structured right now. I am cheering for WP to become #3, but I believe it is still BlackBerry's to lose as opposed to Microsoft's to take. Could I see a scenario where Apple and Android are say, 65% of the market and BB and WP are fighting for the rest? Maybe. But RIM is trending down, and WP is trending up, so this new CEO better be reinventing BlackBerry's wheel really, really quick-like.

8. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

The problem for RIM is that perception can become reality. As you noted, RIM is trending down.... MS has its Windows monopoly that can fund many more reinventions of WP without breaking a sweat. RIM doesn't have that luxury. If they can't get BB10 out on time and it becomes a raging success, Plan B is going to involve a restructuring of some sort. If RIM had announced a handset partnership along with the change in CEO, I suspect there would have been a more positive reaction. Right now, there is just relief that the co-Bozos are gone.

5. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

He looks like Michael Cera would look if he was a CEO in a movie

6. jellytime

Posts: 135; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

Is he Swedish?

7. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

gonna miss those comics of dumb and dumber. Now the question is, which is which?

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