RIM CEO Thorsten Heins reveals more details about BlackBerry 10
ORLANDO, Fla.--In what he said was his first meeting with the global press, Research in Motion CEO Thorsten Heins said that he is working to complete his refocusing of the troubled company. Heins also said that BlackBerry 10 will be available with a physical keyboard as well as with in a touchscreen-only version. He said that RIM will introduce an LTE 4G device as part of the BlackBerry 10 line. Heins also said that BlackBerry numbers are growing worldwide, despite the decline in U.S. market share.
Heins noted that RIM's (NASDAQ: RIMM) purchase of the QNX operating system was important to the company in several ways. First he said that it assures RIM that it has a high-performance multithreaded operating system for its BlackBerry devices. But he also noted that it opens up licensing opportunities for BlackBerry 10, and that the company is exploring those opportunities, especially as part of other embedded systems. QNX is a leader in providing embedded software for a variety of markets, notably for the auto industry.
Heins said that RIM's fastest growing markets are in Latin America, India, Asia and the Middle East. He said that the company has introduced a number of what he called "entry level" BlackBerry devices running BBOS 7.1 that are competing successfully with feature phones. Cell phones have been a transformative factor in some economies, notably in India and parts of Africa. Heins said that RIM's efforts to lure consumers and small businesses away from feature phones and to BlackBerry devices are proving to be very successful.
RIM's entry-level devices are relatively inexpensive compared to those in the United States, and according to Heins will not be sold in North America or Western Europe. Other RIM officials told FierceMobileIT that the devices have relatively few features and probably would never sell in those markets. An examination of a BlackBerry just released in India showed that the device was very basic, lacking some of the decorative details seen on models in the United States and lacking features such as a camera in an effort to keep costs low.
Heins said that the company is "growing tremendously fast" and employs over 20,000 people. He said that when things are changing as fast as they are at the company and in the industry, "You want to cover everything." He said that this causes the organization to lose efficiency. "Everything is an opportunity you want to pursue. There are opportunities that are challenging and are exciting to do."
Heins said that his first order of business at RIM was to simplify the organization and focus the efforts of the development staff on building BlackBerry 10. He said that while RIM was not leaving the consumer business, he wanted development of consumer software including games to be handled by partners. "It's not our core, but we need it," he said.
Heins said that he was disappointed that he had given the impression that the BlackBerry 10 would be available only as a touchscreen device. He said that while his development team has made great strides in bringing the touchscreen keyboard to the next level, a large percentage of BlackBerry customers prefer the physical keyboard, so he said that RIM plans to keep it available, but also plans to make the touchscreen keyboard as BlackBerry-like as possible in terms of the user experience.
Finally, Heins noted that the BlackBerry PlayBook would be upgraded to a PlayBook 2.0. He said that it would be equipped for LTE, and that RIM is continuing to encourage development of apps for the device.