RIM's new chief: Five things I'll change

Research in Motion's new CEO Thorsten Heins talked software, employee and shareholder morale and the role of consumers in his debut conference call.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Research in Motion's new CEO Thorsten Heins made his debut on an analyst call and outlined some general themes in his plan to turn the company around.

Heins will now serve as the new chief executive and president of RIM, effective immediately. Barbara Stymiest, a former banking executive, will become the company’s new chairwoman. Former co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis will remain as directors and shareholders.

Heins said in an interview that his plan is to make RIM more efficient, and move decisively while communicating better with stakeholders. Also, RIM will prototype and develop products continually and focus on consumerization of BlackBerry smartphones.

He elaborated on those themes a bit on his debut conference call. Here are the five items on Heins' hit list.

1. Software is key: BlackBerry 10 and PlayBook 2.0 will also have an "Android player" built in, something that RIM is particularly proud of, and notes it as a "very strong element to its strategy."

QNX-based BlackBerry 10 is an extremely competitive mobile operating system already, said Heins, calling the acquisition "very valuable to RIM".  It is a "proven OS", and he praised Lazaridis for acquiring the software instead of trying to build its own. He added that PlayBook is not "just a tablet,' it is a gateway to the "mobile computing platform"  and that BlackBerry 10 is not just a new operating system but "a whole new infrastructure."

BlackBerry 10 will "prove itself as a platform." RIM could even license it as an operating system for other companies to use. Although licensing is not Heins' first priority, he said he would "entertain the idea."

2. Feed the expectations of shareholders: Heins argued that RIM has a unique position to create integrated and mobile communication solutions. BlackBerry is still one of the most recognized brands, with 75 million BlackBerry subscribers, including 55 million  consumer BlackBerry Messenger users.

3. Set the agenda for the future BlackBerry devices: BlackBerry 7 was "well received", and BlackBerry 10 and PlayBook 2.0 are on deck. The new platform was necessary, but Heins wants to continue to focus on customer-focused products into the next decade. Recruiting a new chief marketing officer for "most compelling products and services" was a priority.

4. Empower his employees: "Succeed as an individual, succeed as a company" was Heins' mantra. He said he will ensure that RIM's employees have all the tools they need to succeed. He noted that employees are shareholders, too.

5. More marketing driven, more consumer driven: "RIM has gone through a tremendous growth phase," Heins said. But "execution has to be done decisively". He recognizes that RIM is still completing "a major transformation," but emphasized that the company needs to really dig in to its customers in both the enterprise and consumer market.


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