RIM Executives Depart as BlackBerry Maker Weighs Strategy

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) said two executives, including Senior Vice President Alan Brenner, are departing as the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone considers strategic options that include a sale of the company.

Brenner, senior vice president of the BlackBerry platform, will depart after a transition period, and Alistair Mitchell, a vice president for the BlackBerry instant-messaging service, has already left, Tenille Kennedy, a spokeswoman for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, wrote yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins said last week that the company is weighing shifts ranging from licensing its BlackBerry software to an outright sale after recording its fifth straight quarterly sales shortfall. RIM is refocusing on business customers and scaling back an emphasis on consumers after failing to keep legions of users from shifting to Apple Inc. iPhones and devices that sport Google Inc.’s Android.

Jim Balsillie, RIM’s former co-CEO, resigned from the board and two other executives departed as part of the overhaul. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said also it will discontinue giving financial forecasts.

Plunging U.S. sales have left RIM’s share of the global smartphone market at 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 14 percent a year earlier, according to research firm IDC. Apple’s share in that period rose to 24 percent from 16 percent.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Alan Brenner, senior vice president of BlackBerry platform at Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), at the BlackBerry DevCon 2010 developers conference in San Francisco. Close

Alan Brenner, senior vice president of BlackBerry platform at Research In Motion Ltd.... Read More

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Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Alan Brenner, senior vice president of BlackBerry platform at Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), at the BlackBerry DevCon 2010 developers conference in San Francisco.

RIM was unchanged at $12.67 yesterday at the New York close. The shares have fallen 77 percent in the past year.

Heins, CEO since January, said on March 29 that a sale would be considered. Still, it’s not the “main direction” for RIM’s strategic review, he said. The company is also weighing whether to set up joint ventures.

Plunging Sales

While former CEOs Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, who both stepped down in January, had assured investors the latest iteration of its smartphone would deliver a revival, BlackBerry 7 devices with better Web browsing and touch-screen navigation failed to do so after going on sale last year. Total sales last quarter tumbled 25 percent from a year earlier as U.S. revenue plunged 57 percent, RIM said last week.

U.S. government agencies, oilfield-services provider Halliburton Co. (HAL) and banks like Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) have either stopped issuing BlackBerrys or let employees use their own iPhones and Android devices in the past 18 months.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported the departures of Brenner and Mitchell.

To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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