RIM fills long-vacant chief marketing job

Tue May 8, 2012 7:44pm EDT
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By Julie Gordon and Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd named a pair of wireless industry veterans to senior management roles on Tuesday as it prepares for the make-or-break launch of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 smartphones later this year.

Frank Boulben, most recently in charge of marketing and sales for U.S. telecom start-up LightSquared, takes over as marketing chief, charged with the task of reinventing the tarnished BlackBerry brand as RIM prepares to introduce the new devices.

In its second appointment, RIM handed the job of chief operating officer to Kristian Tear, a former executive vice president at Sony Mobile Communications. His role will center on managing the logistics of the BlackBerry 10 launch.

Tear will oversee all operational functions for handhelds and services, including research and development, global sales, manufacturing and supply chain management.

In the year since the marketing position has been vacant, the BlackBerry has suffered deep market-share losses to Apple Inc's devices and those run by Google Inc's Android system.

RIM's share price has tumbled more than 75 percent in the past 13 months, around the time the company launched the much-maligned PlayBook tablet. On Tuesday afternoon, the stock was little changed at C$11.83 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"Frankly, RIM's marketing and messaging has been a disaster," said Colin Gillis, a technology analyst with BGC Partners in New York. "The company has strengths, but they have not done a good job of bringing those out to the marketplace."

RIM's share of the global smartphone market slipped to 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from 13.6 percent a year earlier, according to research firm IDC, and it desperately needs a hit with the BlackBerry 10 devices.   Continued...

A logo of the Blackberry maker's Research in Motion is seen on a building at the RIM Technology Park in Waterloo April 18, 2012. P REUTERS/Mark Blinch