Thorsten Heins poses for a portrait at the Research in Motion (RIM) company headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, January 22, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Geoff Robins
The new CEO of troubled technology giant Research In Motion shared his plans and positive outlook Monday, but the company's shares continued their downward slide.
Thorsten Heins, who has been with RIM for four years, took over the reins from co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis.
In a Monday morning conference call with analysts and reporters, Heins said the company will focus more on marketing in the U.S. and keeping in touch with consumer trends.
He also praised the departing CEOs and said he has no intention to split RIM into separate enterprises.
"This is an amazing company with a passionate and loyal global customer base. I believe that RIM truly has tremendous potential and we are absolutely committed to deliver on this opportunity," Heins said.
Heins said like all companies that grow globally, RIM hit a few bumps on the road here and there.
"It is key that we learn from those mistakes. There is no question we are stronger today because of what we went through," he said.
His message didn't reverse RIM's fortunes on the stock market. Shares closed the day at $15.67, down 9%.
Heins has served as RIM's senior vice-president for hand-held business units and hardware engineering, chief operating officer for product engineering and hardware, and chief operating officer for products and sales.
Heins said he will be hiring a new chief marketing officer and he wants that person in place as soon as possible.
The BlackBerry maker's business is growing in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, but the company has struggled of late in the U.S.
"We need to be more marketing driven, we need to be more consumer oriented because this is where a lot of our growth is coming from. That is essential in the U.S."
Heins said his second priority is product execution.
The company's brand has suffered after missing deadlines for the release of new products. In the past, RIM has continued to innovate while bringing a new product to market. Heins said that won't happen under his leadership.
"We need to innovate, don't get me wrong, but we will do this now with much more emphasis on prototyping and concepting...When we say a product is defined and a product is a product, execution has to be really precise," Heins said.
Balsillie and Lazaridis stepping down was a long time coming, said Carmi Levy, a London, Ont.-based tech analyst.
"It was obvious that RIM needed to make a change at the very top. Activist investors had been calling for Mr. Lazaridis' and Mr. Balsillie's heads for the better part of the last year. They have finally gotten what they wanted and they should be very pleased," Levy said.
Levy called the move a shuffle rather than a shakeup.
"The fly in this ointment is the company didn't go far enough in truly setting the stage for future change. They went with an insider for the new CEO position."
And that could hurt RIM share prices in the short-term, he said.
"I think when it sinks in that the company didn't do everything that it could to drive change...investors are probably going to push share value down a little bit," Levy said.
The company's plan for 2012 is already laid out, so all eyes will be on whether RIM's new CEO can introduce new products or accelerate the release of products, Levy said.
"Mr. Heins deserves a certain amount of time to prove his own worth in his new roll and put his own stamp on the company, and these things take time," Levy said.
RIM has 9,000 employees in Waterloo, Ont., and 17,500 globally.