BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has announced that its two CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have stepped down from their respective positions, and the Board of Directors has appointed Thorsten Heins as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company. The company in a statement said that the Board acted upon the recommendation of its Co-Chief Executive Officers to implement the succession plan they previously submitted to the Board, and made the decision.

Lazardis has now become the Vice Chair of RIM’s Board, and Chair of the Board’s new Innovation Committee, Balsillie will continue to remain a Board member. Barbara Stymiest, who formerly served as a member of Royal Bank of Canada’s Group Executive and has been a member of RIM’s Board since 2007, has been named the independent Board Chair.

Lazardis, according to the statement, will work closely with Heins to offer strategic counsel, provide a smooth transition and continue to promote the BlackBerry brand worldwide. He said that he moved from Co-Chair to Vice Chair of the Board in order to return the public’s focus to the company and its products, indicating the ongoing sentiment among analysts and shareholders, which was in favour of a leadership change and a shift in strategy. So in a way, Lazardis seems to be trying to dispel rumours that the Board forced the CEOs to step down, and that he still has control and is also a significant shareholder.

Heins joined RIM from Siemens Communications Group in December 2007 as Senior Vice President for Hardware Engineering and became Chief Operating Officer for Product and Sales in August 2011. He expects to take the company forward with the roll-out of the new PlayBook OS 2.0 for the company’s flop tablets and the launch of smartphone devices based on BlackBerry 10 OS.

“Going forward, we will continue to focus both on short-term and long-term growth, strategic planning, a customer- and market-based product approach, and flawless execution. We are in the process of recruiting a new Chief Marketing Officer to work closely with our product and sales teams to deliver the most compelling products and services,” said Heins.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Heins also said that if the new OS is a big hit, the company might consider licensing the software to other OEMs, and that he would listen to other companies that express licensing interest “on a case-by-case basis.”

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