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Research In Motion underwent a massive shakeup Jan. 22, with longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepping aside in favor of Thorsten Heins, who now assumes the titles of both president and CEO.

According to a statement issued by RIM, Lazaridis will become vice chair of RIM s board, as well as chair of the board s newly created innovation committee. That statement also suggested he will work closely with Heins to offer strategic counsel, provide a smooth transition and continue to promote the BlackBerry brand worldwide. It remains to be seen how much influence he exerts in his new role.

Meanwhile, Balsillie will apparently remain a member of the board. Barbara Stymiest, previously a member of the Royal Bank of Canada s Group Executive, has been named independent board chair; rumors of her becoming RIM s next chairperson have circulated since early January.  

Heins is a company insider, having joined RIM from Siemens Communications Group in 2007. After a stint as senior vice president for hardware engineering, he became RIM s chief operating officer for product and sales in August 2011.

Once a dominant smartphone maker, RIM in recent quarters has seen its market share tumble in the face of aggressive competition from the likes of Apple s iOS and Google Android. One of Heins first public statements alluded to the challenges facing the company as it attempts to adjust to this shifting paradigm: We have learned from those challenges and, I believe, we have and will become a stronger company as a result.

By the end of 2012, RIM plans on issuing an all-new line of devices running the next-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system. In addition, it will issue a long-awaited software update for its BlackBerry-branded PlayBook tablet in February.

Until those BlackBerry 10 devices arrive, RIM will depend on its product line running BlackBerry OS 7 to hold the market share line against competitors. For some time, RIM executives have characterized the company s current period as a transition. It s now seemingly up to Heins to see this period through.  

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To read the original eWeek article, click here: RIM Co-CEOs Step Down, Appoint Heins to Role