Ina Fried

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Balsillie Out as Director at RIM; Two Other Execs Leaving Amid Dour Forecast

Along with its dismal earnings report on Thursday, RIM announced a number of executive changes, including the fact that longtime co-CEO Jim Balsillie is stepping down from the company’s board.

“As I complete my retirement from RIM, I’m grateful for this remarkable experience, and for the opportunity to have worked with outstanding professionals who helped turn a Canadian idea into a global success,” said Jim Balsillie.

Also out are Software CTO David Yach, and Jim Rowan, COO, Global Operations.

The moves come amid continued turmoil at the company, which is aiming to transition from its current BlackBerry operating system to a new QNX-based one similar to that used on its PlayBook tablet.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said that he has identified lots of strengths in the company since taking the helm in January, but cautioned that “notwithstanding these strengths and opportunities, the business challenges we face over the next several quarters are significant.”

Even as it continues to work toward delivering phones based on the new operating system — and on server software to manage rival smartphones — RIM said it is also looking at other options, including “partnerships and joint ventures, licensing, and other ways to leverage RIM’s assets and maximize value for our stakeholders.”

The company reported sales and earnings below an already chopped forecast issued in December. Analysts had projected a brutal quarter, although Thursday’s numbers were below even their consensus figures.

Adding to the gloom, RIM said on Thursday that it “expects continued pressure on revenue and earnings throughout fiscal 2013,” and said it will no longer offer specific earnings guidance, “due to a desire to focus on long-term value creation and the current business environment.”

Canada’s Globe and Mail had reported on its Web site that high-level departures had begun earlier on Thursday.

RIM said it shipped roughly 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones in the last quarter, down 23 percent from the prior quarter, along with 500,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.


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