Who will fill legal RIM job after latest exec exit?

Chief brief Karima Bawa retires amid mass exodus

RIM's has confirmed that its top legal eagle Karima Bawa is to join the ranks of other senior figures that have left the beleaguered mobile player.

The departure of the BlackBerry maker's chief brief comes amid industry talk that RIM is axing some 6,000 jobs – or more than 36 per cent of the workforce – with some reports suggesting 2,000 staffers will enter consultation with the firm from 1 June.

A mouthpiece for RIM told The Register it is "undertaking a search for a new chief legal officer following Karima Bawa's stated intention to retire from her position following 12 years of extraordinary service".

Bawa has been locked in negotiations regarding her retirement for some time and will remain on board to "support the hiring and transition" of a successor.

She joined RIM in 2000 at the start of a busy decade in the courts for RIM as it sued Handspring and Good Technology in 2002 (both settled in 2004) and Samsung in 2006 (settled in 2007).

She follows in the footsteps of co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, who resigned in January, and COO Jim Rowan and head of software David Yach, who left in March.

Since then Alan Brenner, senior veep for BlackBerry; Alistair Mitchell, president for BBM; and only last week Patrick Spence, international sales chief, also exited the business.

Financial results did not flatter the firm in Q4 ended 3 March, recording losses of $125m as revenues slipped.

On the product front, RIM sales of smartphones collapsed 29 per cent in Q1 in a global market that climbed 44 per cent, more than halving RIM's market share from 13.7 per cent in Q1 2011 to 6.7 per cent, Canalys numbers show.

RIM's PlayBook fondleslab fared better, with 500,000 units sold worldwide in Q1 – the product started shipping in Q2 2011 so no year-on-year comparison is possible. This put the vendor in sixth place with market share of 2.5 per cent.

Tim Coulling, analyst at Canalys, said slashing the PlayBook price permanently and an upgrade of the BlackBerry tablet OS helped lift sales but he doubted if the margins made on the boxes were economically viable long term.

"Long term selling that product at such a slim margin will not be viable; RIM will need to find ways to add features to rebuild margins," he told The Reg. ®

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