RIM reshuffles management

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'It was a bit of a bumpy ride'

The joint chief executive officers of Research In Motion, the company which makes BlackBerry smartphones, have stepped down.

Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie will remain on the board, with company founder Lazaridis becoming chairman, but their current operational roles will end.

They have been replaced by Thorsten Heins, moving up from his previous role as chief operating officer of product engineering, in which he was responsible for the BlackBerry brand's international portfolio.

"This marks the beginning of a new era for RIM," said Lazaridis, quoted by news corporation Bloomberg. "It was a bit of a bumpy ride. We've done it as best we could."

The reshuffle follows a troubled time for RIM, with problems in 2011 including a critical open letter from an anonymous senior employee in June; the laying off of 2,000 staff in July; the BlackBerry Messenger service being viewed as partially to blame for the communication of UK rioters in August; a service outage in October affecting millions of users; and drunken employees causing a flight to be diverted in December.

New leadership

It has been reported that investors requested a change in management strategy, due to the ongoing threat from Apple and Google.

At a press conference, Lazaridis added: "There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognise the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now."

New CEO Heins has worked at RIM since 2007 and took on the role of COO in August 2011.

Mark Baker, online marketing manager at theEword, said: "There's no doubt it's been a testing time for RIM and BlackBerry, particularly in the last year, with a combination of technical and public relations disasters.

"However, a new management regime may be a breath of fresh air for the company and lead to better fortunes."