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RIM CEO: We're Not Baking Cookies

Research In Motion's new CEO says his earlier comments regarding change at the BlackBerry maker were a bit misunderstood. Instead of taking the easy way out, RIM hopes the more difficult path leads to success.
Smartphones: Never Too Thin Or Too Organic
Smartphones: Never Too Thin Or Too Organic
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Thorsten Heins wants people to know that change is indeed taking place within Research In Motion. "There is a lot of change," he said. "There is a lot of structure change, there has been already a lot of change in terms of our software, our software platform, bringing QNX in. There is no standstill at any moment here at RIM."

Heins spoke to CrackBerry.com's Kevin Michaluk about a range of topics, including what he thinks about the competition, and what he believes RIM's strengths and weaknesses are.

Earlier this week, Heins said that he didn't believe the company needed change and that it would move forward in the direction set by former CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. He backtracked a bit on those comments.

"I think this got into a little bit of the black and white zone," said Heins. "I was talking about drastic or seismic changes. What I was trying to address was that there was some suggestion that RIM should be split up or should even be sold. My true belief is that RIM has the strength and the assets that we can really succeed in this market. What I wanted to make clear to the market is that we believe in our own strength, we are BlackBerry, we are an integrated solution: hardware, software, services, and network."

[ Investors will need some convincing that Heins has the vision RIM needs. See RIM Investors Give Thumbs Down On New CEO. ]

But the general impression is that RIM has ignored the competition. Heins said that isn't the case at all.

"I have a whole team that constantly checks all the devices that are on the market, and I pick them specifically when I get told that our device kind of doesn't sell against this one, and I do my own testing. Frankly, I use my son and my daughters as well; they're pretty decent BlackBerry testers and they're tech fiends, so I hand some stuff to them and ask them what they think and they give me plenty of good ideas. I have to do this; you need to know where you are."

Heins also believes that RIM and its BlackBerries offer a differentiated experience.

"Just take a look where the Android OEMs are. Take a look at their recent announcements and what you will immediately see is there is just no room for differentiation because they are all the same. The other OEMs ... are just handset providers. I tell you, I've been in that business before. It's cutthroat price and cost competition. And why would I throw the value away of differentiating myself against the others?"

Research In Motion and Apple are different from other handset makers in one key aspect: they make both the platform and the hardware. Other handset makers are using the platforms of others (i.e., Android and Windows Phone). Having an integrated product offering gives RIM and Apple an advantage, but RIM has floundered at putting that advantage to any real benefit. Perhaps that will change once the company brings BlackBerry 10 to market.

Speaking of which, Heins knows that the road ahead isn't an easy one.

"What we choose is the harder way," he said. "I get it. Did we miss on some commitments? Yes, I admit that. That happens in high tech. This is not baking cookies. This is building high-tech products. From time to time your aspirations and your development timelines hit some bumps in the road that were not foreseen. But I think going down that path is exactly right for BlackBerry and its customers."

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