Bloomberg News

RIM Developer-Relations Head Lessard Latest to Leave

September 29, 2011

(Updates with analyst’s comment on PlayBook in last paragraph.)

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Research In Motion Ltd.’s head of developer relations is leaving the company, adding to a spate of executive departures at the maker of BlackBerry smartphones.

Tyler Lessard, vice-president, global alliances and developer relations, will leave in the coming weeks, RIM spokeswoman Marisa Conway said in an e-mail today. He will be replaced by Alec Saunders, a former executive at QNX Software Systems, the company RIM bought in April 2010 to provide the core of its new smartphone operating system, she said.

RIM is overhauling its operating system to help reverse two years of market share losses to Apple Inc. and Google Inc. Lessard is at least the fifth executive to leave RIM in as many months.

“The company announced about a quarter ago a significant restructuring, management realignment and this is the next phase of that,” said Kevin Smithen, an analyst with Macquarie Securities USA Inc. in New York. He rates RIM “outperform.” “There will continue to be management changes as we move toward the QNX launch in the early part of next calendar year.”

Mike Kirkup, senior director of developer relations, announced his departure in a blog post in August. Ryan Bidan, the product manager in charge of RIM’s PlayBook tablet computer, left for Samsung Electronics Co. in July. Brian Wallace left his job as head of digital marketing at RIM, to join Samsung in June. Chief Marketing Officer Keith Pardy gave his notice with the company in March.

Stock Performance

RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, lost 74 cents to $21.16 at 4 p.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock had dropped 64 percent this year.

Lessard’s departure was reported earlier by the blog crackberry.com, which also said Jeff McDowell, senior vice- president, platform marketing and alliances, has left the company. RIM’s Conway wouldn’t immediately comment on McDowell.

Best Buy Co., the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer, cut the price of the 16-gigabyte PlayBook by $200 to $299 and pricier models with larger memory by the same amount.

The move comes a day after Amazon.com Inc. debuted its new tablet, the Kindle Fire, which has about the same dimensions and will sell for $199. RIM shipped 200,000 PlayBooks last quarter, down from 500,000 in the previous quarter when they first went on sale.

John Vinh, an analyst with Collins Stewart LLC, said in a research note that RIM may be considering exiting the tablet market. In a statement, RIM said any suggestion that the PlayBook is being discontinued is “pure fiction.”

--With assistance from Jonathan Erlichman and Betty Liu in New York. Editors: Peter Elstrom, Ville Heiskanen

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net


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