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


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