BlackBerry continues to shake up the executive ranks of its handsets division in a bid to make the operation more profitable. The Canadian firm has appointed a new leader to supervise the business. Ralph Pini will succeed Ron Louks as the device division’s general manager and chief operating officer, says The Wall Street Journal.
Overhauling handset segment
Pini has headed BlackBerry’s radio-frequency technology development operations for more than four years and will report to Chief Executive John Chen. A spokeswoman said Louks left the company on Friday. Louks joined the Canadian firm in January 2014 from Pittsboro, N.C.-based software company OpenNMS Group.
Pini joined the Canadian firm in 2012 as part of the acquisition of New Hampshire-based Paratek Microwave where he was CEO. He held senior roles at Motorola and was part of the team that developed Motorola’s RAZR. The RAZR was once the most popular mobile phone worldwide.
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The leadership change comes after BlackBerry device sales for the quarter that ended on Feb. 29 fell short of expectations. The Waterloo-based company recognized revenue on 600,000 smartphones in the fourth quarter. It was 700,000 in the third quarter.
Also the appointment has come just two weeks after the hiring of Alex Thurber, who will supervise the in-house hardware sales teams and oversee the efforts to make additional revenue from the sales of these products through carriers and other partners. Thurber will report to Pini. Previously, Thurber was the head of worldwide sales at WatchGuard Technologies, a Seattle-based developer of security firewall technology.
BlackBerry aims to grow beyond handsets
Because of the overall drop of the smartphone market, the challenge of executives to revive the shrinking device business has gotten more difficult. Last month, Apple reported its first-ever decline in iPhone sales.
BlackBerry is expanding its business beyond traditional smartphones, such as through its new radar tracking system. The system can be used by trucking companies to oversee their fleets and cargo in real-time.
Pini will focus on broadening the appeal of BlackBerry devices powered by BB10 and Android through the development of hardware devices, software and design that underline security and other advantages favored by enterprise customers. In an email to The WSJ, Pini said the company aims to anticipate new demands before they emerge, like securing all the endpoints in an Internet of Things (IoT) world where a range of consumer and industrial products can connect to wireless networks.