New CEO says no seismic changes for RIM

Research In Motion's new chief Thorsten Heins plans to lead company along same path as predecessors, dismissing expectations of drastic changes but adding to disappointment of investors.

A day into taking the helm at Research In Motion, new CEO Thorsten Heins has downplayed talk of any drastic changes at RIM and says he will steer company on a similar course as his predecessors--a move which does not sit well with investors hoping for a shakeup to turn the company's fortunes around.

In a conference call Monday, Heins, who became CEO on Jan. 22, said: "I don't think that there is some drastic change needed. We are evolving...but this is not a seismic change," Reuters reported. He also ruled out splitting the company up for sale, saying it was not an option he was considering.

According to the report, Heins said he would finetune, rather than abandon, the current strategy at RIM, which needs to be operated as a mature business, not a startup.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Heins to also say: "I will not in any way split this up or separate this into different businesses... If there [are] requests coming toward Research In Motion to talk about licensing that platform to other companies, I will entertain those discussions. I will listen."

His remarks sent RIM's stock price tumbling by as much as 8.5 percent, the Journal reported.

Hein's predecessors, co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, finally bowed to intense pressure from shareholders and resigned from their posts, as the once-dominant mobile giant and maker of BlackBerry smartphone saw its market share and value crumble under the weight of rivals including Apple, Google and Samsung.

Both Balsillie and Lazaridis remain as board members, with the latter also heading a newly created innovation committee, a sign that continuity was part of the company's leadership change, Reuters pointed out.

"Jim and Mike's strategy of not sacrificing long-term value for short-term gain is the right one," Heins said in a Bloomberg report. "I share that value."

Analysts and investors, however, expressed their disappointment with Hein's approach thus far.

"There was enormous pressure for the company to make a change, and Jim and Mike wanted to make as little change as possible," Charlie Wolf, a Needham & Co. analyst, told Bloomberg. "To me, this change looks largely cosmetic."

Jaguar CEO Vic Alboini said in the Reuters report: "If Thorsten really believes that there are no changes to be made, he will be gone within 15 to 18 months. He will be a transitional CEO and this will be a transitional board."

Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum added: "People would have been happier hearing 'we are on the wrong path'. We didn't hear a lot of talk about change."

Heins, a former veteran at Siemens where he worked for more than two decades, joined RIM in December 2007 and was its COO before taking on the post of chief executive.

In an earlier ZDNet Asia report prior to Heins' CEO appointment, analysts said RIM was already knee-deep in its struggles to stem losses in sales and market share, and a leadership change would likely do little to help the company regain its footing.