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Research In Motion Needs a Chief Miracle Worker

  Research In Motion (RIMM) investors may be thankful that limp co-Chief Executive Officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have stepped down, though it will take more than a management shakeup to fix the embattled handset maker.

Guilty of taking its eye off the ball at a crucial point in the smartphone game, RIM has bled market share. Rocked by delayed product launches and an increasingly besieged management team, investors have lost faith in RIM during the past 12 months, pushing its shares down 72%.

A big question mark, however, hangs over new CEO Thorsten Heins' ability to breathe new life into RIM. A Research In Motion insider, Heins was chief operating officer prior to replacing Balsillie and Lazaridis, and his appointment will disappoint investors looking for an outsider to come in and revitalize the company, which is struggling to keep up with the innovation engine at rivals Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG).

What RIM needs is fresh blood, a visionary untarnished by the company's previous failures who can offer a break with the past. During an interview with CNBC early on Monday, Heins said his first action as CEO will be to hire a "top notch" chief marketing officer, although this person will need to be a chief miracle worker if RIM is to regain its reputation for innovation.

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Worryingly, the divisive Balsillie and Lazaridis remain on the scene. According to a statement released by RIM, Lazaridis has been named vice chairman and chairman of the board's new innovation committee. Balsillie remains a board director. They are two of the company's largest shareholders.

Earlier this month, rumors emerged that RIM was planning a boardroom reshuffle that would see Lazaridis and Balsillie shed their titles as co-chairmen of the company's board.

Last month RIM offered up a weak outlook along with its third-quarter results. During a conference call to discuss the results, Lazaridis and Balsillie announced that they are taking annual salaries of just $1 a year.

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