RIM Execs Step Down But Will a New CEO Be Enough?

RIM HeadquartersResearch in Motion’s co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, stepped down late Sunday, handing the reins of the troubled smartphone maker to Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens AG executive who joined the company four years ago.

But analysts aren’t convinced the leadership switch will be enough to save RIM. The Telegraph quotes the tweet of Gartner vice president Carolina Milanesi:

RIM’s CEO change reminds me of the Nokia Spring reshuffle before [current CEO Stephen] Elop was appointed in September. The reshuffle was not enough for Nokia.

Shareholders for months have been clamoring for a leadership change, as rumored earlier, Barbara Stymiest, an independent director who joined RIM’s board in 2007, will take the helm of the board. But Lazaridis and Balsillie, who have run the company for the past 20 years, will stick around. Lazaridis will become vice chairman and Balsillie will remain as a director. The two said the decision was theirs and not prompted by shareholder unrest.

Heins, who was a co-chief operating officer at RIM and formerly chief technology officer at Siemens, has his work cut out for him. RIM’s share of the U.S. smartphone market fell to  16.6 per cent at the end of November, according to research firm ComScore. In comparison, Android phones hold nearly 50 percent and iPhones 28.7 percent.

There have been rumors of takeovers by the likes of Cisco, Amazon and Samsung, though for now, interest appears to have fizzled.

And Darren Murph at Engadget has a harsh assessment for naming Lazaridis to head the board’s innovation committee:

You heard right — the guy who has outrightly failed to innovate at anything in the past handful of years is now championing an innovation committee. Sounds right up his alley, no?

He then lays into Heins’ video statement, for thinking such as this:

If we continue doing well what we’re doing, I see no problems with us being in the top three players worldwide in the next years in wireless.

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