BlackBerry appoints ex-HTC/Sony exec as handset boss

Struggling Canadian device manufacturer BlackBerry has appointed a head of devices as part of its management shake up. Ron Louks will join the firm as president for devices and emerging solutions, reporting to executive chair and CEO, John Chen, as the firm looks to reverse its fortunes.

Louks joins BlackBerry from his position as CEO at training firm and consultancy The OpenNMS Group. He was previously chief strategy officer of HTC America and CTO at Sony Ericsson.

BlackBerry is undergoing drastic changes following a $1bn investment in the company by Fairfax Financial Holdings in early November 2013. Former CEO Thorsten Heins stepped down from his role as part of the investment, and was replaced by Chen, previously CEO of enterprise mobility software provider Sybase.

Later that month, the firm announced the departure of three more key management figures; chief operating officer Kristian Tear and chief marketing officer Frank Boulben left the firm, and chief financial officer Brian Bidulka was also replaced by James Yersh.

“Ron will focus on BlackBerry’s long-term product roadmap, including hardware, software and design, as well as the company’s joint development efforts,” said Chen.

“A good deal of Ron’s time will be spent with customers, carriers and partners. On our path to return BlackBerry to profitability, nothing is more important than remaining deeply connected to our customers, and designing and delivering secure products that exceed their expectations.”

Last month, BlackBerry announced a GAAP loss from continuing operations for 3Q13 of $4.4bn after recording a $965m loss in the previous quarter.

“With the operational and organisational changes we have announced, BlackBerry has established a clear roadmap that will allow it to target a return to improved financial performance in the coming year,” Chen said at the time, adding that “the most immediate challenge for the company is how to transition the devices operations to a more profitable business model.”

In September last year, the firm announced restructuring plans that will see it cut staff numbers by approximately 4,500 – equivalent to 40 per cent of its global workforce.

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