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RIM Names Thorsten Heins New CEO as Lazaridis, Balsille Step Aside

After months of pressure from investors, BlackBerry-maker Research-in-Motion has finally made a change at the top, promoting COO Thorsten Heins to the role of President and CEO. In a press release, the company said that former co-CEOs and co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille had recommended that the board appoint Heins while each of them takes other roles within the company. Lazaridis will remain as vice chair of RIM"s board while Balsille  will stay a member of the board and work as a director.

"There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now," Lazaridis said. Clearly under heavy pressure to appoint new leadership, the press release sites Lazaridis' desire to shift the public focus away from him and back onto the company's products as a reason for the change. 

Heins joined RIM in 2007, having worked previously at Siemens Group. After serving as SVP for Hardware Engineering, he was promoted to Chief Operating Office for Product and Sales last August. 

"As with any company that has grown as fast as we have, there have been inevitable growing pains," Heins said in the company's release. "We have learned from those challenges and, I believe, we have and will become a stronger company as a result."

Heins said he is excited about BlackBerry 7, the current version of the company's phone OS, the upcoming PlayBook 2.0 operating system for tablets, and BlackBerry 10, the next-gen phone OS which is due at the end of this year. Whether customers and investors will continue to wait patiently for BlackBerry 10 remains an open question.

RIM's stock value has fallen 75-percent over the past year while its U.S. marketshare shrank to just 16.6 percent. Last week, Samsung denied that it was interested in purchasing the struggling company as rumors of a takeover swirled.