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Research In Motion Management Shakeup: BlackBerry Maker Hires New COO, Marketing Chief

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RIM NEW COO CMO
Thorsten Heins, president and CEO of Research In Motion, the company that makes BlackBerry, delivers the keynote speech during the BlackBerry World conference, Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Orlando Fla. Research In Motion says it has hired for the key roles of chief operating officer and chief marketing officer. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay) | CP

WATERLOO, Ont. - Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) has hired two veterans from the mobile computing industry for the key roles of chief operating officer and chief marketing officer in a move that had been long-awaited by industry watchers.

The BlackBerry maker said Tuesday that Kristian Tear, who joins RIM from Sony Mobile Communications where he served as executive vice- president, will be the new COO.

Frank Boulben, the former executive vice-president of strategy, marketing and sales for LightSquared, will serve as CMO.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, RIM stock closed up 25 cents at $12.

"Kristian and Frank bring extensive knowledge of the rapidly changing wireless global market and will help RIM as we sharpen our focus on delivering long-term value to our stakeholders," said Thorsten Heins, RIM's president and chief executive officer.

"Most importantly, both Kristian and Frank possess a keen understanding of the emerging trends in mobile communications and computing."

As chief operation officer, Tear will oversee "all operational functions for handhelds and services, including research and development, products, global sales, manufacturing and supply chain," the company said in a statement.

He previously held a variety of operational leadership positions with Ericsson in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

"RIM is an important player in the mobile industry and I am excited to be a part of its future," Tear said.

"I look forward to working with the talented RIM employees and harnessing their ingenuity and creativity for the benefit of more than 77 million BlackBerry users around the world. I also look forward to helping RIM attract a brand new generation of BlackBerry users."

Boulben, who also held senior positions at Vodafone Group and Orange Group, will oversee global marketing efforts at RIM.

"RIM is a pioneer in the mobile world and the BlackBerry brand is a global icon," Boulben said.

"We all know how fast the mobile arena evolves and with the BlackBerry 10 platform," he said. "I believe RIM will once again change the way individuals and enterprises engage with each other and the world around them. I could not resist the opportunity to be part of that transformation."

The company said the two will help RIM as it focuses on expanding its global customer base and preparing for the launch of its new operating platform.

The BlackBerry 10 platform is seen as an important part of RIM's attempt to compete against the likes of Apple's iPhone and devices using Google's Android operating system.

Last week, shares in RIM plunged to their lowest level since 2003 after the Waterloo, Ont., tech giant gave a first glimpse of its much-anticipated new operating software at its annual developer conference in Orlando, Fla.

The BlackBerry 10 OS prototype was handed to developers in the hope of getting them onside and writing applications for the system, but it won't hit the market for several months.

RIM is contending with relentless speculation about a potential takeover, partly due to its weak share price. Heins said plans are to move forward with developing its operating system and unveiling the new devices later this year.

Analysts are generally in agreement that it'll take a showcase of new products before any of them even consider a stronger vote of confidence. Even then, RIM will likely to face further skepticism until the first round of sales numbers are released and that probably won't happen until early next year.

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