With plans to release two new Android smartphones later this year, BlackBerry has completed a major executive shuffle of its devices division.
On Monday morning, longtime BlackBerry employee Ralph Pini became the new chief operating officer and general manager of the company’s hardware division. In doing so, he succeeds Ron Louks, who had held the position since the start of 2014. Louks left the company on Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal. When asked by the publication why the two parties went their separate ways, a spokesperson for the BlackBerry declined to elaborate. Pini will report directly to CEO John Chen.
The executive joined BlackBerry in 2012 when the Waterloo-based company acquired Paratek Microwave Inc. At the time of the acquisition, Pini was the CEO of the company. Prior to his stint at Paratek, Pini held several senior positions at Motorola. Most notably, he was part of the team that shipped the Motorola RAZR, the most successful clamshell handset ever released. Over the past couple of years, Pini has headed up BlackBerry’s radio-frequency technology development unit.
The move comes mere weeks after BlackBerry hired Alex Thurber to oversee global device sales. Prior to joining BlackBerry, Thurber was at a privately-held firewall vendor called WatchGuard, a company he reportedly helped post six consecutive quarters of year over year growth after growth started to decline.
During the Milken Conference last week, John Chen told reporters from both CNBC and Bloomberg that BlackBerry was “very close” to making its devices business profitable again.