BlackBerry CEO: Apple iPhone Getting Old - InformationWeek

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3/18/2013
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BlackBerry CEO: Apple iPhone Getting Old

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins says rival Apple isn't innovating. Also, don't hold your breath for another BlackBerry tablet.

BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins continues to play out his role as cheerleader-in-chief for BlackBerry 10, the Z10, and the company's rebirth. Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Heins had a lot to say about the smartphone industry, BlackBerry's competitors, and what BlackBerry's plans are moving forward.

It's easy to bash the competition, and Heins had a few comments for Apple, the company largely responsible for unseating BlackBerry's dominance of the enterprise.

"Apple did a fantastic job in bringing touch devices to market ... They did a fantastic job with the user interface, they are a design icon. There is a reason why they were so successful, and we actually have to admit this and respect that," said Heins. "History repeats itself again, I guess ... the rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don’t innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about, is now five years old."

[ Blackberry has gotten a lot of things right with the Z10. See BlackBerry Z10 Hands-On: First Impressions. ]

Heins is certainly not wrong. The basic appearance and behavior of iOS has not changed since its debut in 2007. The operating system has added features over the years, but there has not been a dramatic change in the way it works or operates. Apple has begun to take heat for its supposed lack of innovation with respect to the iPhone and iOS, and Heins' comments are the latest example thereof.

(Meanwhile, an Apple exec recently blasted the Samsung Galaxy S 4, which debuted last week, for its lack of innovation.)

Heins is hopeful about BlackBerry 10's launch in the U.S. The Z10 hits AT&T stores March 22 and Verizon stores March 28. Heins claims that the company is on track to reach 100,000 applications in BlackBerry World by the time the Z10 goes on sale (it launched with about 70,000 apps in early February). Some marquee apps, such as Instagram, continue to be absent, but Heins says the company is still negotiating with developers to get those apps on board.

BlackBerry's U.S. launch is key, and the company is working hard to make sure its fledgling operating system takes hold. That's why it probably won't be wading into the tablet market again anytime soon.

"I wouldn't want to do it the same way again, if I do something around tablets, I want it to be really substantial and meaningful," said Heins, "and quite frankly it would need to be profitable as well."

The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet was a spectacular failure. Blackberry was forced to discount it by up to 60% in order to sell through the initial manufacturing run. It infamously shipped without business-critical apps such as email, contacts and calendar. Those features were added months later through a system update.

For now, BlackBerry is focusing on its smartphone business, and that is a very good thing.

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