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Cheeky underdog BlackBerry slams iOS

19 Mar 2013

Despite relative market positioning and the tepid reception of its new handsets (bar one pretty substantial order) BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins reckons the iPhone and iOS is old news.

He told the Australian Financial Review that the rapidly advancing global smartphone market has left Apple’s iPhone in its wake. He also predicted Blackberry would have 100,000 native apps for its Z10 devices in time for the US launch later this week.

“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,” said Heins.

So far so good.

“History repeats itself again I guess ... the rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don’t innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about, is now five years old,” Heins says.

That certainly is one way of looking at it. Quite another is to consider that the iPhone interface is mature and refined, where pretenders to the throne face a struggle to get users over to their way of thinking.

But Heins blazes on, claiming that the one area where the new BlackBerry phones has surpassed the iPhone  is in the ability to multi-task, enabling users to operate their phones more like a laptop. However, this is not unique to BlackBerry…nor, indeed, anything new. Hey, even Windows Phone is doing it.

Of course, BB10 is the make or break for the beleaguered company, so Heins is required to be enthusiastic. Whether or not the product will win the hearts and minds of consumers remains to be seen; but turning his attention away from product for a moment, Heins reckons the future of BlackBerry is tied to its balance sheet.

“In the context of the financial viability of the company that is where I shake my head sometimes and wonder what everyone is talking about. The company has no debt, I will report pretty good cash position by the end of March in my earnings call, so I think we did a really diligent job in, not just keeping the company afloat, but also bringing it back to health,” Heins says.

But the health of that balance sheet has to come back to income…which has to come from the new handsets – and Heins agrees that these represent a “do or die” moment for the company.