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Can Frank Boulben turn RIM’s Marketing Around?

The first order of business for RIM’s new Chief Marketing Officer, Frank Boulben, will be to ensure marketing gaffes, like the one that took place around this year’s BlackBerry World Conference, did not happen again.

It wasn’t exactly a standing ovation.

The reaction to Research in Motion’s announcement that industry veteran Frank Boulben will be the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer was met with approximately the same response other hirings have been greeted with of late.

“My reaction to new $RIMM head of marketing who’s ex-LightSquared – “They couldn’t have done better?” Forbes columnist Eric Jackson tweeted.

“Too little, too late?” wondered Twitter user @flytip.

“What a HUGE challenge he’s got” tweeted @MichaelElgo.

Just who is the man who is filling the CMO role that has been vacant since the departure of RIM’s first and only Chief Marketing Officer Keith Pardy, more than fourteen months ago? Most recently, the Quebec born Boulben was executive vice-president of strategy, marketing and sales for Virginia based wireless provider Lightsquared, which through various incarnations, operated two satellites since the mid-nineties. The move to leave LightSquared may have been an easy one; as of last month, the company was in negotiations with creditors to avoid bankruptcy. Prior to Lightsquared, Boulben was with UK-based telecommunications giant Vodafone Group, where he was charged with building that company’s wholesale roaming business, and before that was with Orange and Vivendi Universal, where he built a reputation as a go to guy on the customer side of mobile.

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Boulben’s expertise, according to Lightsquared’s VP of Business Development Steve Quan, was his ability to develop “partnership and commercial relationships with Internet companies, start-ups and leading global players.” While Steve Goodman-Monger, Head of Customer Management Strategy at Vodafone, says Boulben’s “ability to deeply understand where to focus and add value to local markets is what sets him apart from others.”

Frank Boulben’s first order of business will be to ensure that marketing gaffes like the one that took place around this year’s BlackBerry World Conference in Orlando, do not happen again. While a national campaign touting the virtues of RIM’s vaunted keyboard (“Try typing a thousand emails a day on a touch screen”) made sense to many BlackBerry faithful, unveiling a new BlackBerry 10 device without a physical keyboard while those commercials were running did not.

One person that was impressed with the hire was tech writer Carmi Levy. In a recent piece for Yahoo Finance Canada, Levi said the move means RIM “finally has the right people in place.” Levi’s take on the recent hirings, which also included adding Kristian Tear as Chief Operating Officer? “By all accounts, Heins has chosen well.” adding he believes Boulben possesses “…crucial vendor and carrier experience which could help him rebuild carrier relationships scarred by RIM’s slide.”

Share of Research in Motion closed Friday down .1% to $11.79

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About The Author /

Nick Waddell
Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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