BlackBerry Marketing Chief Departs Amidst PlayBook Tablet Launch

RIM CMO Keith Pardy plans to leave the company just months after RIM is expected to launch its PlayBook tablet PC.

The man "responsible for the overall health of the BlackBerry brand and for developing the marketing strategies and capabilities to support Research In Motion's (RIM) business goals," will leave the BlackBerry maker in approximately six months due to "personal reasons," according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Former RIM CMO Keith Pardy
Former RIM CMO Keith Pardy

Keith Pardy, RIM's chief marketing officer, reportedly told RIM representatives about his plans to leave the company roughly one month ago, after about two years with the Canadian technology giant, but he will "help the company" during a six-month transition period before departing for good.

RIM acknowledged the move on Friday, but did not say whether or not a replacement for Mr. Pardy has been hired.

The news comes at a time when RIM is heavily promoting its first tablet PC, the BlackBerry PlayBook, ahead of its impending launch and trying to modify its reputation as a business-oriented company to one that also makes "cool" tools for consumers. RIM appears to be about to narrowly miss its predicted PlayBook launch date of "Q1 2011," as well. The year's first quarter closes at the end of March, and current rumors set the PlayBook launch at April 10.

Few details on Pardy's departure are available right now, but the timing does seem to suggest the RIM CMO's move could at least be partially related to what appears to many outsiders to be a confused and disjointed BlackBerry PlayBook marketing effort. In fact, it's still unclear to many who exactly RIM is targeting with the PlayBook; the company has said on multiple occasions that the device is business-friendly but not just for business users. And it constantly shows off video games and media functionality, while only vaguely detailing a number of enterprise capabilities.

Here's some background on Pardy, from RIM's media page:

"Prior to joining RIM, Keith worked for 17 years at The Coca-Cola Company in various marketing and business development positions in Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Spain and the United Kingdom. Keith also held an executive marketing role with Nokia Corporation based in Helsinki, Finland."

"Keith holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Dalhousie University and an MBA from Florida State University. Keith is passionate about the creative process, the never ending advancement of marketing communications and how the human mind works."

CMO or no CMO, RIM needs to hurry up and get the initial version of its PlayBook out the door before anxious business users and consumers opt for other suitable tablet options simply because they're available—think: iPad or Motorola Xoom. The BlackBerry PlayBook was announced more than five months ago, and RIM still hasn't' been able to ship the tablet.

Without Mr. Pardy, it will be interesting to see the marketing angle RIM takes in coming months, when it's expected to not only release additional, cellular versions of the PlayBook tablet, but a number of new BlackBerry handhelds for 2011.

AS

Via WSJ.com

Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for CIO.com. Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Al at asacco@cio.com

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