Blackberry maker Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) said its chief marketing officer Keith Pardy will be leaving in six months, just weeks ahead of its PlayBook tablet launch.

Keith Pardy, who joined the Canadian technology company in December 2009, informed RIM of his departure a month ago for personal reasons and will stay on for six months to transition, the company said in a statement on Friday.

We believe that this likely means he was not poached by a competitor. We think it is possible that Pardy and the management team came to a mutual agreement to move in a different direction, said Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies.

His surprise resignation comes weeks before the expected launch of RIM's PlayBook -- almost a year after the introduction of Apple's iPad tablet, according to a Reuters report. The RIM offering will also have to compete against devices powered by Google's Android platform.

Pardy's imminent departure may not have much impact on the immediate success of the PlayBook when it finally launches. Hopefully, when you're weeks away from product release, you've laid most of the groundwork for the marketing efforts. Others can execute the groundwork that's been laid out, market research firm IHS iSuppli analyst Rhoda Alexander told Reuters.

We believe that the move was planned in advance of RIM’s upcoming marketing push surrounding the Playbook and QNX. We view any weakness as a buying opportunity, said Misek.

Misek said a new marketing approach could be beneficial due to RIM's market share losses in the U.S. Especially in front of QNX, new handsets, new tablets, new apps, new ecosystem = new message. Making a switch now makes sense, said Misek.

Prior to joining RIM, Keith worked for 17 years at Coca-Cola Co. 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 Corp. based in Helsinki, Finland.

RIM has never been a strong marketing company in part because it never had to be. They've been hit by a competitive pressure that they didn't feel three or four years ago, Jack Gold, principal at J. Gold Associates, a technology consulting firm, told Wall Street Journal.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM is expected to launch its PlayBook tablet in the first quarter of 2011. RIM, which competes with Apple Inc., Motorola Mobility and Nokia in the mobile phone market, is expected to face stiff competition from Apple's iPad and Google Inc.'s Android-based tablets.

RIM lacks the apps ecosystem strength enjoyed by Apple and Google, one reason why RIM has been slowly losing its share in the smartphone market. Without a conscious effort to improve its app platform, RIM’s PlayBook may not gain much traction in the tablet market, stock analysis firm Trefis said in a note to clients.

According to a recent report from Bloomberg, RIM could be working on software to allow its PlayBook tablet to run Android apps. Trefis believes that this move could benefit both RIM and Google.

RIM’s app store will get the much needed strength of Android apps, which in-turn will help make the PlayBook more attractive. Concurrently, the higher Android adoption will help Google expand its search advertising business.