Interview: RIM Chief Thorsten Heins on Saying No to Android and Other Lessons Learned
In taking over Research In Motion, CEO Thorsten Heins said he got lots of advice, including plenty of people who said that RIM should switch to making Android devices.
“I got a lot of advice to just go Android,” Heins said in an interview on Thursday. But, Heins said, there wasn’t much of an opportunity to stand out. Samsung, which makes a lot of its own components, had made a good business for itself, but everyone else was having a tough time standing out from one another.
Plus, he said, “It’s not going to be respectuful to our BlackBerry users.”
Instead, Heins has doubled down on the company’s bet to do its own operating system, BlackBerry 10. Heins said the move was not just about reviving its smartphone business, but creating a platform for the next decade of mobile computing.
“I’m really satisfied today we have made that decision,” he said.
That said, Heins acknowledged the company got a late start in making the shift. In part, he said that the company was too slow to realize that customers were favoring big screens and apps over its historical strengths in email, security, typing and battery life.
“In hindsight, what I would say is we probably didn’t detect that movement quickly enough,” he said. “I think we are in touch with reality now.”
RIM has an all-important launch coming up Jan. 30 for the first devices running the new operating system. But, Heins said there has been lots more work going on at the company.
Even as the company finalized BlackBerry 10, Heins said he has been working to reshape the Waterloo, Ontario-based company. He noted that the company managed to reshape its executive team, cut 5,000 jobs while still adding subscribers and working on the new operating system.
“We’re still in the middle of it,” Heins said. “I don’t want to pretend to you like we are done.”