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Thorsten Heins, who took over from RIM’s long-time co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in a dramatic management shakeup in late January, made his first keynote speech to a BlackBerry developer conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning, the company’s first ever software conference in Europe. Pictured here, Mr. Heins poses for photos at Research in Motion's head office in Waterloo, January 22, 2012. (J.P. Moczulski for The Globe and Mail)
Thorsten Heins, who took over from RIM’s long-time co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in a dramatic management shakeup in late January, made his first keynote speech to a BlackBerry developer conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning, the company’s first ever software conference in Europe. Pictured here, Mr. Heins poses for photos at Research in Motion's head office in Waterloo, January 22, 2012. (J.P. Moczulski for The Globe and Mail)

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BlackBerry-loyal Europeans crucial to RIM's future Add to ...

Research In Motion Ltd. ’s new CEO offered more detail on the BlackBerry maker’s international strategy, outlining how important Europe is for growth and promising more global events to increase the platform’s traction with third-party software developers.

Thorsten Heins, who took over from RIM’s co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in a management shakeup in January, made his first speech to a BlackBerry developer conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

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“First, it’s always great to be back home, I consider myself a European kid,” said Mr. Heins, who is from Munich. “Secondly, and much more importantly, I had my first public appearance here, I wanted to show really my commitment and Research In Motion’s commitment to our developer community because without you, the BlackBerry solution wouldn’t be complete.”

Over the past year, as Apple Inc. ’s iPhone and smartphones running Google Inc. ’s Android software gained more market share against the BlackBerry, software developers saw less reason to develop for RIM’s platform. But in his address, the man charged with maintaining RIM’s international momentum reminded the audience that the BlackBerry is a bestselling smartphone in many global markets.

“BlackBerry is the No. 1 smartphone in many countries around the world, including countries such as the Netherlands,” Mr. Heins said to applause, adding to the list other countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and South Africa. “Developers are critical to our long-term success. Just showing the size of this developer conference, it clearly proves that BlackBerry is a vibrant and thriving platform.”

RIM’s subscriber growth in Europe was 75 per cent year-over-year, Mr. Heins added, more than double the company’s overall figure of 35 per cent.

He stressed RIM will focus more on regions such as the Middle East, Europe and Asia-Pacific, spend more on global developer events and give out 25,000 PlayBook tables to spur development of BlackBerry apps.

But on Tuesday, there was another reminder of restiveness in RIM’s corporate customer base. Energy giant Halliburton confirmed it is transitioning 4,500 employees off BlackBerrys and onto iPhones. “We are making this transition … to better support our mobile applications initiatives,” Marisol Espinosa, a Halliburton public relations official, said in an e-mail.

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