RIM Marketing Chief Drops Out Weeks Ahead of PlayBook Launch

By DEVINDRA HARDAWAR of VentureBeat

RIM Marketing Chief Drops Out Weeks Ahead of PlayBook Launch - NYTimes.com

This probably isnít the way Research in Motion wanted to prepare for its long-awaited BlackBerry PlayBook tabletís launch: RIM announced Friday that chief marketing officer Keith Pardy is leaving the company for ďpersonal reasons,Ē the Wall Street Journal reports.

Pardy will continue to assist RIM over the next six months, which means he may still play some hand in the PlayBookís launch ó but he likely wonít be as much a guiding force as he would have as CMO. Pardy told RIM about his decision to leave the company last month, a person familiar with the matter told the WSJ. The company hasnít said whether itís bringing on a new head of marketing soon.

RIM is facing one of its biggest product rollouts ever with the launch of the PlayBook, which is expected to occur some time in March or April. (The most recent rumor puts the tabletís launch on April 10.) It would have been a difficult launch for RIM even with Pardyís full attention. Now that heís on his way out, RIM will likely face even more challenges.

The PlayBook isnít just RIMís first tablet entry, itís also the companyís first attempt at a sexy consumer product, which stands apart from its traditional focus on enterprise customers with its BlackBerry smartphones. The tablet will be going head-to-head with Appleís iPad 2, as well as tablets running Googleís Android 3.0 operating system, like Motorolaís recently launched Xoom. RIM will need all of its marketing talent possible to make the PlayBook register with consumers among such heavy competition.

I liked what I saw of the PlayBook at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The tablet was fast, and the interface looked far beyond anything like the clunky BlackBerry software RIM is known for. Itís running an operating system based on software from QNX, a company RIM bought earlier last year. QNXís software will eventually power RIMís future smartphones. The company thus far has failed to take on the touchscreen interfaces of the iPhone OS and Android ó itís most recent flagship device, the BlackBerry Torch, was a dud.


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