BlackBerry CEO: Our vibrating devices will satisfy most needs
You'll soon tire of hefty laptops 'n' slabs
BlackBerry CEO and President Thorsten Heins has declared the organisation he leads is “not a phone company” but a mobile computing company whose networks and operating system can be used to connect a wide range of devices.
Speaking in Sydney, Australia, at the formal local launch of the new Z10 handset, Heins bridled at suggestions the new mobe is a make-or-break proposition for the company.
“A phone is only part of a mobile computing solution,” he said. “Mobile computing is about services and the way you bring them to the end user,” he added, suggesting BlackBerry's experience running messaging services makes it ideally positioned to work in other applications that require widespread and secure networks.
Such applications, Heins said, are already emerging in cars, where machine-to-machine communications are appearing as a diagnostic or traffic management tool. To deliver such services, he said “you need a network that is secure to transport data and you need a device at the car. That device does not have to be a smartphone.”
That device does, of course, need an operating system of some sort and Heins said he feels the QNX OS at the heart of BlackBerry 10 is well-suited to automotive applications given its roots in embedded development. Several auto-makers already use QNX, he added, and they tend to be loyal.
They're also looking for help, according to Heins.
“Car markers want to speed up their innovation cycle to internet speed,” he said. “They are actively engaged to find out what is mobile computing in their industry."
Healthcare is another field in which Heins has said QNX - and by extension BlackBerry - can "add value" with its combination of specialised devices and a trusted network.
Heins' also spoke about his vision for BlackBerry as a service-enabler that just happens to sell hardware in response to questions about the possibility that the firm would once again address the tablet PC market.
“If I build a tablet I will not build it for the hardware purpose,” he said. “I will do it around a service or a services value proposition.”
“Pure hardware alone is a cut-throat businesses. Our vision for mobile computing is how can we take it to the next stage, not just another tablet or the next design for tablets.”
Heins also has an eye on the enterprise market, saying he thinks end users will soon tire of carrying a mobile phone, tablet and laptop. The computing power of the mobile, the thinks, will satisfy most needs, although he did not offer a vision for how it will be adapted or evolve to offer a better user experience for diverse tasks.
Challenged on whether BlackBerry can achieve these goals, he retorted that upon arriving at BlackBerry he was told he had little chance of achieving anything, given the parlous financial state of the company in early 2012.
“We have done very poorly in financial management,” he conceded. “I was told in two quarters we would be bankrupt. I was told we did not have enough cash to get BB10 to market.”
Both of those predictions were clearly wrong, and Heins says market share growth and net promoter score – a metric that measures how many customers would recommend a purchase – have been “high” in every market BlackBerry has entered with the Z10.
Throw in the company's 79 million current customers, plus carriers he says are crying out for an alternative to the iPhone/Android duopoly, and Heins sees plenty of upside.
“I am not claiming victory,” he said. “I think we got off the starting grid very well.”
Left stalled in the pits, meanwhile, is Lenovo's reported bid for BlackBerry, which Heins dismissed on the basis that Lenovo executives seem to have little idea of just what they are purportedly buying.
"The comments surprised me," Heins said. "When you listen to what [Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing] said afterwards, he said, 'I first have to understand what this company is about'. That would tell you a lot about the maturity of the approach." ®
Heins is impressive
He's a technical CEO who seems to get an awful lot and also appears to listen. If you contrast his achievement with Elop at Nokia you might think that either he was dealt a better set of cards - QNX and the BlackBerry enterprise history - or had more strategic vision. Nokia now looks like it's stuck with good hardware and a doomed OS.
His comment on tablets makes a lot of sense - much as I like my PlayBook.
It's also significant that he took Canadian citizenship this year which suggests he doesn't plan to return to Germany any time soon.
Of course one person is far from making a company, but looking over the heads of the current big players, I get the feeling that overall it is Samsung and BlackBerry who really know what they are trying to do. Microsoft seems to be internally confused, and Apple is radiating "The CEO is away and the head of manufacturing is caretaking" signs.
Next smartphone? Tough decision. The only thing I can be sure of is that I'm not paying £800 for an iPhone with adequate storage when the Samsung and BlackBerry competition are both expandable.
Re: Really ....
I do wonder how many "apps" are really for the benefit of the user, and how many have data collection and advertising as their principal objective.
Those of us who can remember the early days of the IBM PC will recall just how much junk there was out there, and how few programs there were for the Mac by comparison. Yet in those days the Mac was a far more useful tool. I do wonder if we are just going through a repeat and before long most of the apps will start to disappear as the income drops below development cost.
BlackBerry still haven't fixed navigation, which is important, but the communications stuff looks good and the web browser is impressive. Give me a decent remote access toolkit, a GPS that knows about Ordnance Survey references, and the utilities from Maemo/Meego and really you can stuff Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and the like into a burlap sack and drown them in a spent fuel pool at Fukushima and I won't even be bothered to watch the video.
Re: Really ....
"Well judging by the lukewarm response to the Z10 in the UK it looks like break then."
citation required please, since every company that does market research has back tracked on all "less than expected" predictions
"It's overpriced and the app support is pitiful. Surely he knows it's not just the phone and hardware but the eco-system behind it that drives sales .... and it's sadly lacking."
Over priced? seems fairly run of the mill pricing wise for a similar specced iPhone or android based phone.
App support i have to agree isnt great but its a new platform barely a month out from release. iOS and Androiud both took time for momentum to gather.
Re: 2 points
No, he just assumes that the BlackBerry faithful - and they tend to be very faithful - will spread his words around other markets.
They're sponsoring Mercedes F1. Given that in the US they won't know what that means, it tells you (a) what countries he's interested in and (b) the development platform to which they would like to contribute. Even if Lewis Hamilton may be going to have to spend a lot of time learning not to say "my iPhone".
Dual Use Item?
From the headline, I though that Heins was applying for dual use export permits. Maybe trying to get a foothold in the Adult Devices market...