BlackBerry Hires Former HTC Executive to Run Device Business

BlackBerry Ltd. hired former HTC Corp. and Sony Ericsson executive Ron Louks to run its devices business, tasking him with reigniting demand for the company’s smartphones after years of market-share losses.

Louks will serve as president of devices and emerging solutions and will report directly to Chief Executive Officer John Chen, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company said today in a statement. Louks most recently served as CEO of the OpenNMS Group, following stints as chief strategy officer of HTC America Inc. and chief technology officer of Sony Ericsson.

Chen, a former Sybase Inc. and SAP AG executive who took the reins at BlackBerry in November, has been shaking up management in a bid to turn around the struggling smartphone maker. In December, Chen appointed former SAP executives as BlackBerry’s new heads of enterprise services, corporate strategy and marketing. He also signed a five-year deal with Foxconn Technology Group to outsource the manufacturing and design of some of its phones.

“Ron will focus on BlackBerry’s long-term product road map, including hardware, software and design, as well as the company’s joint development efforts,” Chen said in today’s statement.

BlackBerry rose 5.3 percent to $8.01 at the close in New York. The stock fell 37 percent last year.

Louks has run OpenNMS since August. The company, based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, builds and manages data networks in places like the Paris subway and for clients including pizza maker Papa John’s International Inc., according to its website.

Foxconn Deal

The Foxconn deal lets BlackBerry offload more of the costs of its unprofitable manufacturing operations, including the risk of building up too much inventory, so it can focus on corporate software and services. Still, BlackBerry isn’t licensing technology to Foxconn, signaling that the company isn’t ready yet to get out of the business entirely.

“On our path to return BlackBerry to profitability, nothing is more important than remaining deeply connected to our customers, and designing and delivering secure products that exceed their expectations,” Chen said today.