Ahead of its last-ditch effort to stay relevant in the smartphone market, BlackBerry parent Research in Motion has hired Frank Boulben as chief marketer.
Mr. Boulben was previously exec VP-strategy, marketing and sales at wireless broadband network LightSquared. He's also held marketing posts at European mobile carriers Vodafone and Orange Group.
The new CMO joins just weeks after RIM announced its long-awaited smartphone refresh, BlackBerry 10, designed to compete with Apple's iPhone and devices running Google Android. After the BlackBerry's early lead as the smartphone of choice, Apple and Google have made the device largely irrelevant in the U.S. in recent quarters. Devices running BlackBerry 10 are expected later this year.
Mr. Boulben will oversee global marketing, an area crucial to maintaining BlackBerry's foothold in markets such as India, where iPhone and Android devices aren't yet dominant. But RIM will have to retain its customers with less marketing heft. Both Apple and Samsung, the biggest Android-handset manufacturer, were among the top 100 global ad spenders in 2010. RIM was not.
RIM has undergone a major management overhaul as it bleeds smartphone market share, revenue and profit. The company also announced the appointment of Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear. It installed Thorsten Heins as CEO in January.
RIM has been without a CMO since Keith Pardy announced plans to leave in March 2011, citing "personal reasons." Brian Wallace, the company's top digital marketer, left soon after for Samsung Mobile.