Reaction Roundup: the lowdown on RIM’s executive shuffle

Reaction Roundup: the lowdown on RIM’s executive shuffle

Jim Balsillie is out; Thorsten Heins is in (Image: tangi bertin)

We don’t expect analysts to go easy on Research In Motion just because co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie finally stepped down. If anything, newly minted leader Thorsten Heins should brace for the hurricane of advice, criticism and nitpicking that’s headed his way (for our part, we’re wondering if he borrowed that haircut from Stephen Harper). Tech and finance analysts have already started to unravel the implications of the executive reshuffle, weighing in on whether Heins can return RIM to its former glory after it lost 75 per cent of its stock value—and an even larger share of its dignity (zing!)—in the last year. We round up what the pundits had to say after the jump.

• Is saving RIM even possible? The good folks at the The Economist aren’t so sure, suggesting the success of the iPhone and Android devices could spell the tech giant’s inevitable doom. Quoth the venerable U.K.-based publication: “The company has already lost a lot of ground on its competitors. Too much, perhaps, for Mr. Heins to make up.”

• Erik Sherman at MoneyWatch says RIM can be saved, but Heins isn’t the one to do it. Sherman offers that Heins will continue to follow Lazaridis and Balsillie’s script, and his appointment “only temporarily delays the inevitable need to break up RIM and sell off the pieces.” He adds that Heins, who has been with the company since 2007, should have seen all the problems coming and done something about them before now. That is, if Balsillie and Lazaridis let him get a word in edgewise.

• The idea of licensing BlackBerry software has received broad support among those who still think RIM is still salvageable. Dexter Thillien, a senior telecommunications analyst at HIS Global Insight, told Bloomberg Television that the company should “concentrate on the software” and orchestrate a licensing deal with Samsung, HTC or LG. The good news is that Heins has already indicated he’d be open to licensing agreements, beginning with the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 software.

• The Wall Street Journal quotes Merrill Lynch’s Tal Liani, who argues Heins is a nobody as far as investors are concerned and likely won’t restore confidence in the company until he lays out his plans in detail. Ouch. Although change was long overdue, Liani says Heins is an “unknown figure,” even though he is co-president of the company.

• While investors may never have heard of him, Heins, at least, saw himself as a star. Asked by the Globe and Mail if he expected to be made CEO, he replied: “I hoped I would be.” Let’s hope that saving RIM is next on his bucket list.

• Boardroom in motion [The Economist]
RIM co-founders step down, not far enough away [MoneyWatch]
RIM CEO Must Focus on Software, Analyst Says [Bloomberg Television]
RIM’s New CEO: Analysts Not Impressed [Wall Street Journal]
Heins eager to prove he’s up to the task at RIM [Globe and Mail]