Thorsten Heins BlackBerryResearch In Motion (RIM), maker of BlackBerry smart-phones, has named Thorsten Heins as its new chief executive officer, succeeding co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. Lazaridis, who founded RIM in 1984, will become vice chairman, while Balsillie will continue to sit on the board, without any operational role. Thorsten Heins, who joined RIM four years ago from Siemens AG, was one of RIM’s two chief operating officers before his promotion to CEO.  Director Barbara Stymiest will take over as chairman

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM has been hit hard by customer defections to APPLE’S (AAPL) iPhone and iPad, and handsets that use Google’s (GOOG) Android software. Once the most valuable company in Canada, RIM’s stock tumbled 75 percent last year amid a slump in sales. Problems were compounded for the company when it suffered its worst service outage in October, 2011, affecting customers globally. The PlayBook tablet, which analysts expected, would be the answer to Apple’s iPad, has not proven as popular as RIM had hoped. The company’s third-quarter results, announced in December, projected a miserable outlook for the fourth quarter. RIM’s share of the global smartphone market sank to 11 percent in the third quarter from 15 percent a year earlier, according to research firm Gartner Inc. The company has been the subject of recent take-over rumors by companies such as Microsoft (MSFT), Nokia (NOK) and (AMZN)

Lazaridis, speaking after the announcement said, “There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now. “