RIM's new CEO, Thorsten Heins, wants the company to improve its product development while also becoming better at marketing, he said during a conference call on today. Heins is taking over from Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, who had co-CEO roles and will remain with the company. "Eighteen months ago Mike and Jim took a bold step when we had to make a major decision around our future platform, and they purchased QNX to shepherd the transformation of the BlackBerry platform for the next decade," Heins said. "Right now, with PlayBook 2.0 coming out in February, we are more confidant than ever that this was the right path to go."
RIM's decision to pick its new CEO from within the company makes it clear that it won't budge from current strategy, which is based on its acquisition of the QNX operating system, according to Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight. QNX is already used on its PlayBook tablet, and will also be used on its smartphones with the arrival of BlackBerry 10, Blaber said.
[ Learn about consumerization of IT in person March 4-6, 2012, at IDG's CITE conference in San Francisco. | Get expert advice about planning and implementing your BYOD strategy with InfoWorld's 29-page "Mobile and BYOD Deep Dive" PDF special report. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobilize newsletter. ]
At first, Heins will focus on improving the company's marketing efforts, which include hiring a new chief marketing officer as soon as possible, and the way it develops products. "We need to be more marketing driven, and we need to be more consumer-oriented because that is where a lot of our growth is coming from," said Heins.
RIM will also change how it develops products. The company has been innovating while developing the products, and that needs to stop, Heins said.
Innovation will take place with much more emphasis on prototyping, and RIM has great teams that can try new ideas out, he said. "But when we say a product is defined ... execution has to be really, really precise, with no churn in existing development programs," said Heins.
Heins didn't address rumors about RIM being acquired, but emphasized that its current model is the way forward. "I will not in any way split this up or separate it into different businesses," said Heins, adding that while he will listen to anyone who wants to license BlackBerry 10, it is not his main focus.
Picking a new CEO from within was the right decision, according to some analysts. "Heins has been the COO for some time. He has been at RIM for over four years now, and he has been leading the current product transition," said Blaber. "It will be about delivering on the strategy they have already embarked on."
Pete Cunningham, analyst at market research company Canalys agreed: "RIM has been stagnating and needed an injection of fresh leadership." Bringing someone in from the outside would have been riskier, he said.
Other analysts criticized the decision to stay with an insider who's been part of the so-far-unfulfilled strategy to reverse the BlackBerry's slide.