RIM CEO on What Went Wrong and the Future of BlackBerry

In an exclusive Q&A, CIO.com's Al Sacco chats with RIM CEO Thorsten Heins on the current state of BlackBerry and how it fell from grace, what the company is doing to ensure things in Waterloo don't get worse, and the product delay problems that have plagued RIM.

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Mon, July 09, 2012
Page 5

[RIM has delayed the launch of BlackBerry 10 numerous times. Most recently it announced that the first BlackBerry 10 device won't arrive until early 2013. It had previously stated BlackBerry 10 would launch in 2012.]

On the most recent BlackBerry 10 delay: "I could actually have kept the schedule, if I had made a sacrifice on quality and on platform stability. I decided not to do that, because I need to make sure that when we deliver a BlackBerry, it is best quality...when we ship BlackBerry 10, we will do it at high quality."
Thorsten Heins

The delay of BlackBerry 10 is not because we added stuff to it. The delay is because our software groups were actually so successful in coding the various feature components and building blocks that when we put them into the main "trunk line," as we call it, when we wanted to build the first main release, we got overwhelmed by integration efforts. I had to make a decision. I could actually have kept the schedule, if I had made a sacrifice on quality and on platform stability. And I decided not to do that, because I need to make sure that when we deliver a BlackBerry, it is best quality.

Am I disappointed that we had to shift it into the first quarter? Yes, I am. But the point is, it was a decision between: Rush it out again, and then fix the quality stuff later; or bring it out with high quality. What I commit to the public out there is that when we ship BlackBerry 10, we will do it at high quality. That was the decision I made.

I read your recent editorial in the Globe and Mail, and I thought it was well written.

Thank you.

But I do have some questions about a few statements you made. In the editorial, you noted that RIM is seeing increasing subscriber numbers in many different counties outside of North America. However, when you look at the big picture, the market share numbers are troubling. For example, recent global mobile OS market numbers from IDC suggest RIM's overall share of the OS market is steadily decreasing, with RIM holding just 6 or 7 percent of the market today. Meanwhile Android (59 percent of the market) and iOS (23 percent) continue to grow steadily.

Uh huh.

So while RIM may be growing in some geographic areas, it is losing ground overall, and that appears to be related to what's happening in North America. Can RIM succeed without capturing a larger part of the North American market? Would RIM be content with continued success in smaller markets?

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