BlackBerry bosses fall on their swords

Research in Motion (RIM) co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, have resigned as the Canadian maker of BlackBerry smartphones continues to come under pressure from bigger rivals Apple and Google in the market they effectively pioneered.

Their decision to step down won’t surprise analysts and shareholders, many of whom have been calling for a change at the top of RIM for months. The company has lost significant market share in developed countries to Apple’s iPhone and smartphones powered by Google’s fast-growing Android operating system.

“There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognise the need to pass the baton to new leadership,” Lazaridis told the Guardian on Sunday. “Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought the time was now.”

RIM’s share price has fallen sharply in the past year — at time of writing it was down by more than 72% — as its once market-leading BlackBerry smartphone platform continues to lose market share. Its first foray into the tablet computing market, the Apple iPad competitor the PlayBook, has failed to grab the imagination of consumers.

Former Siemens executive Thorsten Heins, who has been with RIM since 2007, has taken the CEO reins from Balsille and Lazaridis with immediate effect, while Barbara Stymiest is taking on the role of chairperson, a position the co-CEOs previously shared.

Lazaridis and Balsillie will remain on RIM’s board, with the former taking on the role of vice-chairperson. – TechCentral

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