This was accelerated by a decision made by RIM management to give in to requests from governments to provide some level of access for law enforcement and to identify government threats. While this level of access hasn't been fully disclosed, and others appear to have done the same thing, it created a cloud over one of RIM's strongest advantages, particularly against the growing Android platform, and that was security. In short, after these agreements became public, buyers no longer saw, for the most part, RIM's security as being significantly better enough to force employees to use that platform even over the comparatively more unsecure Android lines.
Finally, the company's other advantage, the consistent use of a hardware keyboard, wasn't reinforced in market and users took it for granted particularly when Apple effectively changed the default configuration for its smartphones to a design that didn't need a hardware keyboard. This effectively eliminated RIM's other big advantage and RIM dropped into decline.
To restore RIM, the firm has two paths and likely only enough resources to do one of them well. Either double down on IT and grow that market again or create a solution that consumers will prefer over the iPhone and Android phones. Both paths have a significant marketing component because RIM could build a competitive product, as Palm did with the Palm Pre, but if it fails as Palm did to build excitement and demand for it in either group, it is still done.
This suggests that rather than an engineer, RIM should have chosen someone who understands delivering products to consumers or someone who understands and can resource the reversal of the consumerization of IT trend that is killing its products. For the former, you'd likely do as IBM's Louis Gerstner did and pull from a consumer products company. For the latter, you'd pull from a company like IBM, which is fighting this trend successfully. Neither selection would be easy because the cultural differences in both extremes would make integrating the candidate difficult and thus you'd likely have to make some really hard tradeoffs.
Now, if, rather than trying for a perfect initial choice, you looked for a team (which is what you'd end up having to build regardless as even Apple wasn't successfully run by just Steve Jobs), having an engineer in that team wouldn't be a bad idea. This means that Heins isn't a disaster and he is a far better choice than Carol Bartz was for Yahoo because he at least understands RIM and can hit the ground running.
The critical next skill is marketing and here the same core requirements need to be met. In other words, the successful candidate must either understand how to bring a consumer product to market successfully or how to drive a campaign that both empowers IT again and makes them favor RIM's products. The two skill sets are vastly different.
Wrapping Up: Change for the Better?
On paper, this executive change is better in one way and that is it collects leadership into one person and drives change. However, change alone doesn't fix things much because changing direction when you don't know where you are going isn't likely to get you there any quicker. RIM needs to address either the elimination of IT as its core buyer or ride the consumer wave that Apple has created better than Apple does (because it has to catch up to Apple). Both paths are possible. IBM has demonstrated this with IT and moving around a dominant vendor is what Apple did to Microsoft.
But for either to be successful, the company will need to change perceptions and have products that are designed to be successful in the market chosen. That means strong, focused marketing talent that is adequately resourced and has some input into product design. This is rarely done in any company and Heins doesn't appear to have the background to recognize this need. This could hurt him in the end.