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RIM President Plans Consumer Focus

Waterloo, Ontario
– Research In Motion’s newly appointed president/CEO promised that the
smartphone maker will become more “marketing-driven” and “consumer-oriented”
while it improves execution of product and program management.

In speaking to
investors on a conference call, Thorsten Heins also said the BlackBerry maker
has already begun to recruit a new chief marketing officer as part of the
company’s effort to improve marketing communications and execution of the
company’s go-to-market strategy. In the U.S., he noted, the public perception
is skewed toward a view that the company is enterprise-focused. The company
needs to become more “consumer-oriented” because “that’s where growth is coming
from,” he said.

A focus on
consumer marketing represents “a major change for us,” Heins added.

The company must
also get “way better” at executing product and program management, he said,
noting that the company “scaled tremendously fast” and “innovated while we
developed product.” Innovating during product development “must stop,” he said.
The company must get better at “process discipline,” and “products need to be
prototyped,” he continued.

In other
comments, Heins said he would “entertain requests” by other companies to
license the planned BlackBerry 10 OS “if it makes sense strategically and
tactically” but that licensing “is not my focus one.”

He also said he
would not split the company into separate handset and services companies because
the company’s devices, network, services and integrated solutions make the
company “unique in wireless.”

Like before, the
company’s strategy includes an effort “to be a really major player in the
entry-level [smartphone] segments, Heins said. Fifty to 60 percent of phone users
worldwide are feature-phone users, opening up a “huge potential” to upgrade
them to smartphones, initially with entry-level phones and then to more
powerful BlackBerry phones and to BlackBerry tablets and other BlackBerry
computing devices, he explained. He called the strategy a “BlackBerry for
everyone strategy.”

The OS for the
PlayBook 2.0 tablet due in February, he noted, isn’t just a mobile-computing
platform and will enable the company to “address other market segments.”

PlayBook 2.0 and
the BlackBerry 10 OS will also have an Android player, strengthening RIM’s position
in the smartphone and tablet markets, he added.

RIM’s board on
Sunday appointed Heins, RIM’s COO for product and sales, as president/CEO and
as a board member. The board also appointed board member Barbara Stymiest as

Mike Lazaridis
and Jim Balsillie, RIM’s co-chairs and co-CEOs, left their posts in the wake of
RIM’s declining market share and stock price but remain on the board. They said
they decided to resign from the position and recommended Heins’ appointment,
which the board said it unanimously approved.