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Jim Balsillie resigns from RIM board

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Research In Motion Ltd.'s (RIM-T) new CEO Thorsten Heins has begun getting rid of high-level staff at the troubled smartphone giant, according to a source close to the company.

Among the casualties, Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO, has resigned from the board.

The announcements came as the company reported grim fourth-quarter results in which it missed on earnings again, with revenues of $4.2 billion.

BlackBerry sales were down 21 percent from last quarter.

Revenue for the fiscal year ended March 3, 2012 was $18.4 billion, down 7 percent from $19.9 billion in fiscal 2011.

Ahead of RIM reporting fourth-quarter and year-end financial results on Thursday after markets close, a source with knowledge of Heins' actions said RIM executives at the senior vice-president and vice-president levels had been told they no longer had jobs on Thursday.

"Lots of high level people within RIM were let go today," this person said. "Quite a few. Big shake up."

Sales and marketing staff, which were targeted for layoffs in the summer, have been targeted yet again, according to this person.

Few expected RIM's results to be good. The only question analysts had were how bad the results would be and what changes Heins was beginning to implement at the smartphone maker, which has lost market share to Apple Inc. and Google Inc.'s Android platform.

RIM said when it announced its third-quarter earnings that it expected to see fourth-quarter revenues of between $4.6 billion and $4.9 billion, earnings per share of between $0.80 and $0.95, and a gross margin of approximately 38 percent.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based technology company also said it expected to ship between 11 million and 12 million smartphones.

Bay Street and Wall Street analysts in recent weeks have been universally bearish on the company, with many forecasting that RIM would miss its earnings guidance and announce that BlackBerry sales were slowing.

Several analysts have also raised other issues, either through an analysis of long-term trends or through channel checks. Some have pointed out that the strong overseas growth that has carried RIM through recent quarters may be slowing, and that demand seems to be slowing for RIM's current crop of "aging" BlackBerry 7 smartphones, such as its flagship touch screen BlackBerry Bold 9900.

"The company is on a declining trajectory and there is little reason to think this is going to change with the current strategy," wrote BGC Financial L.P. technology analyst Colin Gillis in a note to clients this week. "Our take is that customers view the brand as yesterday's phone, and (mobile application) developers are not building for the platform."

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