Research In Motion Ltd. is appointing two former telecommunications executives to its board of directors, the company said, as the Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone maker tries to mount a comeback after losing vast amounts of market share to larger rivals.
On Thursday, RIM said in a statement that it was appointing to its board Richard Lynch, a retired executive vice president at wireless giant Verizon Communications Inc., and Bert Nordberg, a former CEO of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.
Last week, RIM launched a new smartphone running its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, software that is meant to put RIM’s BlackBerrys back on a more even footing with Apple Inc.’s iPhone and the devices running Google Inc.’s Android software, which have both taken market share from RIM over the past few years.
The new phone, the BlackBerry Z10, launched to positive reviews and strong pre-orders at carriers in Canada and the U.K., though analysts remain uncertain about the long term viability of RIM’s platform, which is vying with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone software for third place globally.
“We are looking forward to their contributions as we continue to drive for long-term shareholder value and seek opportunities to leverage the extraordinary BlackBerry 10 platform launched last week,” board chair Barbara Stymiest said in a statement.
RIM’s board, particularly during the company’s darkest days over the past year, has come in for criticism that it was not representative of the company’s increasingly global business – being made up of executives from Canada’s business establishment. Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, the company’s long-time co-CEOs were also co-chairman of the board, and many analysts and critics said it would have been difficult for board members to challenge the two men on strategic direction or technical details of RIM’s products.
Mr. Balsillie and Mr. Lazaridis stepped down in a management transition that elevated chief operating officer Thorsten Heins to the CEO’s chair in 2012. Mr. Lazaridis remained vice-chair of the board, Ms. Stymiest moved from being a director to chair of the board, and Mr. Balsillie resigned his seat.
RIM shares have lost more than 90 per cent of their value from a peak near $150 a few years ago, and Mr. Heins has pledged to explore various licensing and partnership opportunities for the new software, including so-called machine-to-machine technology in the automotive and health care industries.
However, Mr. Heins said the company is now completely dedicated to selling the new touchscreen BlackBerry, which went on sale in Canada on Tuesday after a big launch event in New York on Jan. 30, and will be rolled out to various global markets over the next six to eight weeks. A new BlackBerry with a physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Q10, will likely launch in April.
Mr. Lynch and Mr. Nordberg were not immediately available on Thursday