When Thorsten Heins was appointed new CEO of Research in Motion late last Sunday, his first call wasn’t to the Wall Street Journal, nor was it to The Globe and Mail, or even the National Post. Heins’ first official order of business was a call to Kevin Michaluk, the Founding Editor of CrackBerry.com.
Michaluk later recounted that “…just minutes after the news became official that Thorsten Heins was appointed the new CEO of Research In Motion, my Bold 9900 rang with an incoming call from a 519 area code. Knowing 519 = Waterloo, I answered (good thing!), and within seconds was put through to none other than Thorsten Heins himself.”
The surprise call led to Heins’ first extensive interview as Research in Motion boss. In a wide-ranging conversation with Michaluk, Heins clarified his statements from the original Monday morning press conference that he didn’t feel significant change was needed at RIM.
“I think this got into a little bit of the black and white zone” said Heins “I was talking about drastic or seismic changes. What I was trying to address was that there was some suggestion that RIM should be split up or should even be sold. My true belief is that RIM has the strength and the assets that we can really succeed in this market. ”
Michaluk went on to ask Heins if the public could ever look forward to seeing RIM’s popular BlackBerry Messenger service on other platforms, noting that a recent poll found 71% of CrackBerry readers were in favor of the move. While conceding that “there is a time where this might make sense”. Heins added he “…was not hired to build a licensing company” but to “…take BlackBerry to new heights.”
2011 was, without doubt, Research in Motion’s worst year. The company’s entry into the tablet space, The BlackBerry PlayBook, was widely regarded as a flop, and RIM continued to lose market share in the mobile device sector. The company’s Q3, reported midway through December, was typical. It wasn’t the quarter’s numbers; Q3 revenue of $5.2 billion was up 24% from Q2 and BlackBerry smartphone shipments of 14.1 million were up 33%. It was the future, which many believed looked increasingly bleak for the Waterloo-based mobile giant.
Heins says the troubles for the company were the result of it not being disciplined enough. One of his first orders of business, he told Michaluk, was to improve the company’s management structure, by “….putting small teams together, assigning them dedicated tasks, making them accountable, and giving them funds to fulfill their tasks rather than being distributed over 3-4 programs. That happened in the past, and that led to programs getting omitted frankly.”
Crackberry.com was launched in 2007 by a group of five Winnipegers, led by Michaluk, who was then an employee of CanWest Global. Soon after the site was founded, it was acquired by Smartphone Experts, an online retailer and manufacturer of smartphone accessories. The site is by far the web’s most popular destination for BlackBerry information. Web-traffic reporting site Alexa ranks it as the 2,691 most popular site in the world.
After losing more than 9% the Monday after the appointment of Heins as new RIM CEO, shares of the company rallied last week to regain much of its lost ground. On the TSX, Research in Motion closed Friday up 3% to $16.79.
For Kevin Michaluk’s full interview with new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins Click Here.
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