Ina Fried

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Interview: RIM CEO on Taking BlackBerry 10 to the Finish Line and the Work That Remains

After months of hard work, Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins said his company finally has the new crop of BlackBerry devices where they need to be.

“This platform really is over the finish line,” Heins told AllThingsD in an interview on Thursday. “What we are doing now is polishing it.”

The company made the tough decision earlier this year to delay the release until early 2013 even though it meant essentially sitting on the sidelines during the all-important holiday season.

RIM has scheduled a Jan. 30 launch event for the first BlackBerry 10 devices, with product availability to follow shortly.

The company will launch both a full touchscreen device and one with a keyboard, though availability of the keyboard-equipped model will follow shortly after the all-touch one.

RIM has previously said that it is in testing with 50 carriers. Heins said Thursday that number is now higher, but did not give a new number. Heins also wouldn’t say if the company would have devices at all four major U.S. carriers at launch, noting that discussions are still taking place.

Heins praised the work his company and new executive team have done to get the first products finished even as 5,000 jobs were being cut. Although RIM is aiming for a device that pleases business customers, Heins said the company has created a device that individuals will want to choose as their smartphone just based on its consumer features.

However, he acknowledged, significant work remains.

“Now we need to get the product out,” Heins said. “We need to prove ourselves.”

Initially, RIM’s devices will go after the high end of the smartphone market, but over time, Heins said, the company wants keyboard and all-touch BlackBerry 10 devices at the mid-tier and entry levels of the market as well. The keyboard-equipped market, in particular, is being underserved today by competitors, Heins said.

“We own the QWERTY market today and we want those guys to be happy,” he said.

As for attracting developers, Heins didn’t announce any new apps for BlackBerry 10, but said the company has a list of must-have apps along with several hundred programs it wants to have in each country, and it feels good about where things stand.

“I think we will be in good shape on the 30th of January,” Heins said.

We’ll have more on Friday from our conversation with Heins.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus