BlackBerry CEO: iPhone past its prime
Aging user interface deserves 'respect' – just like your granddaddy
From BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins' point of view, Apple's iPhone is growing rather long in the tooth.
"The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about, is now five years old," Heins told The Australian Financial Review.
Not that Heins has no respect for the iPhone – it's more that his respect is somewhat like that which you have for your granddad, that upstanding member of The Greatest Generation.
"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," Heins said.
Just like you have to respect Glen Miller, Artie Shaw, and Woody Herman, but you don't have to tag their tunes into your workout playlist. You'll also notice that Heins chose the past-tense "were" rather than the present-tense "are" when discussing Apple's success.
"The point is that you can never stand still," Heins said. "It is true for us as well. Launching BB10 just put us on the starting grid of the wider mobile computing grand prix, and now we need to win it."
The width of that starting grid, however doesn't yet stretch far enough to include an upgrade to his company's failed tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook – at least not yet. Heins told The Australian Financial Review that he sees no compelling business case that would make it reasonable to get back into the tablet market in the near future.
The PlayBook, you may remember – if you remember it at all – inexplicably arrived on the scene without a native email client, an app that you'd think would be considered a necessity on a mobile device.
"I wouldn't want to do it the same way again," Heins said. "If I do something around tablets, I want it to be really substantial and meaningful, and quite frankly it would need to be profitable as well."
Concerning tablet profitability, Heins had kind words for Cupertino. "Kudos to Apple," he said, "I think they really managed to own that space, so it doesn't make sense for me to just take this head on."
Heins is in Australia for the launch of the BlackBerry Z10 in that country, (while watching the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix – thus some of his terminology) and to promote BlackBerry (née RIM) as "not a phone company," but instead as the provider of "a mobile computing solution."
Come to think of it, the use of the term "solution" to describe a combination of hardware, software, and services is a bit old hat, as well – just like a certain smartphone operating system. ®
While the BlackBerry man obviously has his own commercial interests, I think he's got an indirect point in that the iPhone is no longer particularly exciting. Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features; an expressive touch interface is the norm and 95% of most people's use is probably texting, using the browser or using apps for services that are also accessible in the browser. They can do that on more or less any handset out there.
Even if you take Apple's case at its strongest — that the iPhone is the best phone in its class — it's now just one in a pretty big class.
Re: It's like the bike
@ribosome. No one said the bike hadn't changed. The analogy is the apt because the comparison is not the details, it's the UI. Bikes still look the same and I'm willing to bet that you can both recognise and operate pretty much any (normal) bike ever built. The few times people have tried to 'improve' bikes we ended up with things like the recumbent bike ..
Re: " Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features"
Actually, the "dated" stamp is an interesting one, because we seem to remain with the idea that we HAVE to upgrade every so often. I've tried the iPhone 5 and it's actually too light for me - I prefer the 4S which has a bit more weight. I think the 5 would only become comfortable if I could add a battery pack to it so it would gain weight.
You see, ergonomics is not just about making things lighter, and I personally think Apple overshot here. I worked with some companies on product design, and the iPhone 5 is the first product I've had in my hand that felt indeed uncomfortably light. Or maybe I just have big hands :)
Thus, I will *not* upgrade. I have a 4S which works, and the main improvement (the camera) is not that relevant for me. I may get an Android for testing to keep an eye on alternatives, but I see no longer value in upgrading every year. At some point you arrive at designs that work for you personally - why then upgrade?
I'm not into bling, I buy things that work for me..
That explains it.
Why every one is trying so VERY, VERY hard to imitate and compete with the iphone. You still don't get it. It's not about the newest technology, it's not about the fancy look. It's about putting together a good product.
...and what way, actually? BB has pretty much nothing to do with the BB OS you are probably thinking of and iOS is indeed a boring, locked-down, limited UI and as a multimedia OS it's far the worse kind of junk out there.