A lot is riding on Thorsten Heins, who's been charged with resuscitating stumbling Research in Motion as its new CEO.
Heins yesterday replaced controversial RIM co-CEO's Mike Lazarides and Jim Balsillie.
Analysts and industry partners think Heins may have only until December to prove his mettle. By then, they say, he must get new BlackBerry 10 smartphones out the door and get Playbook 2 tablet sales off to a good start when they begin shipping starting next month.
"RIM is already locked-in on BlackBerry 10 and PlayBook 2, so they are somewhat committed to that strategy," said Rick Segal, the CEO of Fixmo, a provider of risk management software for BlackBerry, Apple iOS and Android smartphones.
"The execution is what has to be done, and [Heins] has to keep the trains running on time," Segal noted. "If there's no movement in 24 months, he's toast. In fact, if they miss Christmas [2012 product rollouts], that will be ugly."
Heins, a RIM insider who held the COO post before his promotion, said early Monday that under his leadership RIM will focus on making a stronger commitment to consumer products and to boosting its marketing efforts.
Analysts today said efforts to improve its place in the consumer business and upgrade its marketing is nothing new for RIM; it's just that the Canadian firm hasn't done very well at either.
RIM, they noted, has been trying mostly in vain to market products to consumers for more than two years. It has largely failed in efforts to sell touchscreen smartphones in the U.S. and has been hurt by selling devices that include lackluster Web browsers, they added.
As part of the effort, RIM acquired mobile operating system developer QNX nearly two years ago. However, it failed in 2011 to roll out QNX-based smartphones fast enough to compete against Android and iOS devices.
RIM's share of the U.S. smartphone market dropped dramatically in 2011, according to reports from various analysts. Those reports did note, however, that RIM has done better in other regions of the globe.
QNX, now called BlackBerry 10, is now supposed to hit the market later this year.
Heins' announcement that he plans to find a new chief marketing officer for RIM hardly solves its problems, said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group. The new CEO has a background in engineering "and engineers often don't fully understand the marketing role," he noted.
RIM might need to pull a CMO from Apple or elsewhere so it can take on a brash new approach, Enderle added.