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RIM reshuffles UK and European team ahead of new OS

Could lose government monopoly position

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RIM is reshuffling its European management team ahead of the launch of BlackBerry 10, with a new UK boss and the creation of a new, EU-wide managing director.

Stephen Bates, who had headed up RIM in the UK, is being shifted to a new role as regional managing director of Europe. Rob Orr, a vice president with the company's Europe, Middle East and Africa region, is now the top dog in Britain.

Orr faces a tough time ahead. The company is selling plenty of discounted tablets in the UK, although the company is still linked in the minds of some to last summer's riots. However there are signs that the British government may be about to reassess its security protocols for mobile contracts, breaking RIM's monopoly on high-security deployments.

Currently BlackBerry is the only company to achieve impact level 3 (IL3) accreditation for secure use by government departments, meaning the Sir Humphreys of the world can't use their shiny new iPhones for work. However, the specifications are being reviewed and it's rumored that another smartphone vendor is about to get clearance.

In the nine months since he took over the job CEO, Thorsten Heins has been busier than a three-legged sheepdog, clearing out the dead wood from the company's management and slashing other staff numbers. CO-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have been shuffled aside, as has the COO and head of software.

But it hasn’t helped that much. The BlackBerry 10 operating system that will make or break the company has been delayed until January at the earliest and developers are flocking to the richer pastures of Android and iOS – despite RIM's denials.

Certainly the company has benefited in the past from a loyal customer base, but that's no longer the case. The latest figures from IDC show RIM's market share slumped from 11.5 per cent to 4.8 per cent last year, and BlackBerry 10 devices will be going up against the iPhone 5, Windows Phone 8, and Android Jelly Bean handsets when the new OS finally launches.

Heins seems confident his company is not in a "death spiral," although some stockholders disagree. BlackBerry 10 will have to be a miracle for the Canadian company to survive and RIM needs developers and customers to keep the faith. ®

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