RIM CEOs desert sinking ship

Research In Motion’s Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have bowed to investor pressure and resigned as co-CEOs.

They have handed the poisoned chalice to Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens AG executive who has risen steadily through RIM’s upper management ranks. We guess they have gone somewhere hot to have a nice rest.

For the last 20 years,  Lazaridis and Balsillie have ruled RIM through some glory days, but lately have been charting a a course which even an Italian cruise ship captain would think was a bit dodgy.

RIM’s share price has fallen faster than two different weighted cannon balls off the leaning tower of Pisa. There have even been rumours that the outfit was up for sale.

The fact that Lazaridis and Balsillie were in charge was always cited as a reason that a sale would prove difficult.

Investors have been calling for a new “transformational” leader who could revitalise RIM’s product line and resuscitate its once cutting-edge image.

It remains to be seen if Heins will provide the outfit with new beans.

Analysts have been telling Reuters that while the move is fantastic, they fear that Heins is just a figurehead. He is an engineer and there are some fears that as a CEO he can’t really get to the central problems faced by RIM.

The double headed monster also gave up their shared role as chairman of RIM’s board. Barbara Stymiest, the woman who once headed the Toronto Stock Exchange, will take over.

In the group interview announcing the change, Heins said his most immediate concern is to sell RIM’s current lineup of BlackBerry 7 touchscreen devices, deliver on a promised software upgrade for its PlayBook tablet computer by February, and rally RIM’s troops to launch the next-generation BlackBerry 10 phones later this year.