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CEO Gaffe of the Week: Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY)

Last year, I introduced a weekly series called “CEO Gaffe of the Week.” Having come across more than a handful of questionable executive decisions when compiling my list of the worst CEOs of 2011, I thought it could be a learning experience for all of us if I pointed out apparent gaffes as they occur. Trusting your investments begins with trusting the leadership at the top — and with leaders like these on your side, sometimes you don’t need enemies!

This week, I’ll be highlighting a company all too familiar with this dubious honor, Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) and its CEO, Thorsten Heins.

Research in Motion Ltd. (BBRY)

The dunce cap
It appears that we’ve switched CEOs, from the joint leadership of Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis to Thorsten Heins, and changed the name of the company, yet we’ve still wound up in the exact same predicament anyway.

Despite a rapidly shrinking base of BlackBerry users, those few BB faithful still left, and those tired of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone’s iOS and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s  Android, are eager for something new. According to COMSCORE, Inc. (NASDAQ:SCOR), which released its U.S. fourth-quarter market share data this week, Google’s Android OS accounted for 53.4% of all U.S. market share with Apple’s iOS grabbing 36.3%. The remaining 10% is split among BlackBerry, which clocked in at just 6.4% of U.S. smartphone market share, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), whose share shrank to just 2.9%, and Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), whose long-abandoned Symbian OS clocked in at a meager 0.6%.

Things were expected to change with the unveiling of the BlackBerry Q10 and Z10 designs last week. It was a chance for BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins to show the world what his company had been working on for the past two years. Over that time span, BlackBerry had encountered multiple delays, so you can imagine that users were excited for the latest and greatest of what the company had to offer.

The two devices, the Q10 and the Z10, differ in that the Z10 is a touchscreen-only device while the Q10 utilizes the company’s recognizable keyboard. Strike one came when Heins noted that the Z10 wasn’t going to be released in the U.S. until mid-March despite strong purported sales in select markets of the U.K. and Canada. Heins placed the delay on the domestic carriers and their strict testing requirements but it does little to satiate a crowd that’s waited two years for a new device.

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