RIM has announced co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have stepped down.

Thorsten Heins, who was previously COO at the firm which makes BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet PC, has been named the new President and Chief Executive Officer. Heins joined RIM joined RIM from Siemens Communications Group in December 2007.

Lazaridis is to become Vice Chair of RIM's Board and Chair of the Board's new Innovation Committee, while Balsillie will remain a member of the Board.

"There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognise the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now," Lazaridis said in a statement issued by RIM.

"I agree this is the right time to pass the baton to new leadership, and I have complete confidence in Thorsten, the management team and the company," Balsillie added.

According to research firm Gartner, in Q3 of 2011 the BlackBerry operating system had an 11 percent share of smartphone from Google's Android OS.

"Going forward, we will continue to focus both on short-term and long-term growth, strategic planning, a customer- and market-based product approach, and flawless execution. We are in the process of recruiting a new Chief Marketing Officer to work closely with our product and sales teams to deliver the most compelling products and services," said Heins

"RIM earned its reputation by focusing relentlessly on the customer and delivering unique mobile communications solutions. We intend to build on this heritage to expand BlackBerry's leadership position."

RIM also named Barbara Stymiest, who has been a member of RIM's Board since 2007, as the independent Board Chair.