RIM Announces Management Shake-Up

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Research In Motion, the maker of Blackberry smart phones, used to be a dominant player. Now, it's looking like an also-ran. The company announced a management shake-up Monday, but the new guy won't have much time to pull off a turnaround.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


I'm Robert Siegel. And it's time now for All Tech Considered.


SIEGEL: Today, reinventing RIM. Research in Motion makes the once ubiquitous BlackBerry. In recent years, it's watched the iPhone and other devices take a huge bite out of its market share.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the Canadian company named a new CEO today and is hoping for a turnaround.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: If shareholders were hoping for totally new leadership, they didn't get it. RIM's board opted for one of their own, Thorsten Heins, who's been at the company for four years, previously as chief operating officer. Heins, who is German, told employees in a video that the company, despite some issues, remains cutting edge.

THORSTEN HEINS: At the very core of RIM, at its DNA - how I always describe it - is the innovation. I mean, we always think ahead. We always think forward. We sometimes think the unthinkable.

NOGUCHI: That may have been true a long time ago, but not in recent years, says Ted Schadler. Schadler is an industry analyst with Forrester Research. He says former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis missed many boats.

TED SCHADLER: I just remember standing up in front of their analyst meeting, with holding my little iPhone in 2008 going: So, Mike, what are you going to do about this computer that I'm carrying around in my pocket? And he just basically laughed me out of the room.

He was like: What are you talking about? Nobody cares about that. Like, yes, they do. It's a computer. It does everything. I can get on the Internet right here. Look. And he was like, yeah, that's not what we do. Like, well, boy. Then you're going to be in trouble.

NOGUCHI: Consumers preferred the iPhones, with their thousands of applications or apps. And that forced many employers to follow their lead. Within three years, Schadler says BlackBerry went from having a near monopoly in smartphones to less than half the market.

SCHADLER: And RIM missed. They missed that shift to the consumer. So, they've been playing catch up. And they've lost really their focus on what really makes them different, which is the network.

NOGUCHI: That network, Schadler says, is RIM's key to the future. Unlike other device makers, RIM built and uses its own network - one that is more secure. And, he says, although it's a smaller market, there are businesses and government clients who need just that.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington

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