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Blackberry in disarray as both CEO’s step down

Research In Motion co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have both stepped down, after many years holding the reins. The company has been struggling in the last year to compete in the mobile phone sector and a new leader has been put in place to reverse the fortunes.

Thorsten Heins, a chief operating officer who joined RIM four years ago from Siemens AG, RIM announced yesterday.

Blackberry phones were once the market leader, with unparalleled email support. In recent years however Google Android and Apple iOS powered smartphones have taken a huge slice of the market. Research In Motion have subsequently lose billions in market value.

This year doesn’t look any better so far, as the new range of phones said to help them claw back market share, won’t be released until later this year. The Playbook Tablet, which was a huge focus in 2011, has failed to ignite customer excitement, leaving the iPad and Amazon Kindle Fire to lead the market. RIM have had to drop the price of the unit, in the effort to increase sales.

Making way for a new leader: Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis

Lazaridis and Balsillie have been hailed as Canadian role models in the business sector and for the last 20 years they have formed a strong partnership, leading RIM.

Lazaridis said in a statement “There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now.” He will take on a new role as vice chairman of RIM’s board and Balsillie is also a member of the board. They are the two biggest shareholders.

Balsillie added in the statement “I agree this is the right time to pass the baton to new leadership, and I have complete confidence in Thorsten, the management team and the company. I remain a significant shareholder and a director and, of course, they will have my full support.”

Heins looks confident, saying “We are more confident than ever that was the right path. It is Mike and Jim’s continued unwillingness to sacrifice long-term value for short-term gain which has made RIM the great company that it is today. I share that philosophy and am very excited about the company’s future.”

To show his belief in the company Lazaridis will be spending $50 million of the companies shares, on the open market. A risky move considering their ill fortunes in 2011.

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