Yesterday CTIA announced that RIM President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis will fill the gap in Tuesday's keynote next week at the CTIA Wireless 2007 conference in Orlando, FL. Lazaridis will replace Motorola CEO Ed Zander, who abruptly canceled his appearance shortly before Motorola announced last week that it expected a first-quarter loss. Lazaridis will join Randall Stephensen, COO of AT&T and Pieter Knook, senior vice president, mobile communications business at Microsoft.
I congratulate Lazaridis for stepping in to fill the open slot at last minute. No one likes to be last-minute replacement--particularly when the person you are replacing has been as highly-touted as Ed Zander.
Perhaps Zander should take a cue from Lazaridis. Unlike Zander, who was president and COO of Sun Microsystems and then headed private equity firm Silver Lake Partners before he took the top seat at Motorola, Lazaridis has been with RIM for more than 20 years. He founded RIM in 1984 when he was still a university student and has been researching and inventing wireless data technologies ever since. He is a true wireless entrepreneur.
RIM certainly has built a loyal following for its Blackberry devices, particularly with enterprise customers. Despite competition from other device makers and middleware firms such as Visto, Seven and Synchronica, RIM has maintained its position as the dominant leader in the push e-mail space.
I look forward to hearing what Lazaridis and the other keynote speakers have to say at CTIA. I certainly hope the keynotes are compelling and not just an opportunity for some executives to give high-profile sales pitches. Frankly, I'm disappointed that CTIA isn't continuing its traditional Day 3 Carrier Roundtable. In the past, this roundtable provided some of the best quotes and commentary from the show. Of course, some of the most colorful carrier executives, such as Nextel's Tim Donahue, are no longer part of carrier top management. Donahue retired from Sprint Nextel's board last December.
I look forward to seeing many of you next week in Orlando. Fierce's editorial team will be there in full force and we'll be filling the newsletters with live coverage from the show. If you see me wading through the throngs of CTIA conference-goers, be sure to say hello. -Sue