From now until Dec. 31, CTV Kitchener is counting down the top 10 local stories of 2012. Catch the countdown each night on CTV News at Six.

A turbulent year at one of Waterloo Region’s biggest employers comes in at number four in our countdown of 2012’s top local stories.

The first sign that 2012 would be a pivotal year for BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion came in January, and it came with flashing neon lights.

Out were co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. Both had been with the company since long before it became the darling of the Canadian tech sector, with Lazaridis being one of RIM’s founders in 1984.

Taking over the CEO portfolio was Thorsten Heins, a German-born businessman who had been serving as the company’s chief operating officer.

Heins immediately got to work, delivering a message of reassurance in the staying power of his brand while also admitting some obvious challenges.

“There is a kind of polarized view on Research in Motion and BlackBerry at the moment globally,” he said.

It was anything but a smooth transition. RIM’s stock price had tumbled and its market share dwindled as Apple and Android devices continued to take bigger bites out of the global smartphone market.

One day in April showed the contrasting fortunes of what were once the world’s two largest smartphone makers. While Apple’s stock reached a price of $634 per share, shares in RIM sank to just $12 – their lowest level since 2003.

The company held its annual general meeting in July, drawing unprecedented levels of complaints and grumbles from shareholders upset with the company’s direction.

“There’s still too many vestiges of the old guard on that board of directors,” Allan Foerster, a lecturer at Wilfrid Laurier University, told CTV.

Shareholders like Paul Durnan planned to hang onto their RIM stock, saying they saw better days ahead for the company.

But for thousands of employees, things got worse. In August, the company announced 5,000 layoffs across its global workforce.

RIM released its third quarter results earlier this month, revealing a better financial situation than analysts expected, but also a worldwide drop of one million users.

One pivotal year for RIM may be coming to a close, but 2013 promises to be equally significant as investors, customers and the entire tech industry will watch closely what happens after the January release of the long-delayed BlackBerry 10.