Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins defended his company and its future on the CBC Metro Morning radio program July 3, saying it is neither in a “death spiral” nor “at death’s door,” as host Matt Galloway suggested. Heins told the host that RIM remains in the middle of a transition and that he feels “positive” the company will successfully emerge from it.
Heins appears to be a man of considerable patience and fortitude—necessary qualities for his current, unenviable job requirements: saving RIM, revamping its tarnished image and getting the world to understand the magnitude of what the company is working on.
Over nearly 10 minutes of compelling airtime, Heins worked at all three.
He told Galloway:
We’re building a whole new mobile computing platform and that is a huge program that we are going through with the company. We’re doing in probably 18 to 20 months what others have used 24 to 36 months for. So, the whole company is focused around it, and while we do this, we are still very focused on selling BlackBerry 7 … So this whole company is going through an orientation of new focuses—around corporate customers, around consumers, around a whole new software platform, and that is quite a challenge to the company.
While RIM has worked to compress its calendar, it nonetheless has been forced to delay the launch of the BlackBerry 10 platform from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of next year. During the company’s June 28 earnings call, Heins announced the delay, a quarterly loss of more than $500 million and that the company, as expected, will be letting 5,000 employees go.
When Galloway asked why the delay, Heins responded that he, too, was disappointed, but given all that is riding on BlackBerry 10, it must be “of the highest quality,” with no compromises.
Could we have rushed it out? Probably, yes. But the point is, it’s a new platform for the next 10 years. We want it to be stable, we want it to be reliable, we want it to be of the highest quality. And in the light of this, I think a delay of two months is disappointing, and all the teams are disappointed, but they will continue working hard, get it out in the first quarter, and get it right.
Galloway was quick to point out that that delays have become a RIM hallmark—and here he made for some excitingly uncomfortable conversation, telling Heins that in six months’ time, when BlackBerry 10 is ready to come out, RIM may not even be around.
Heins calmly responded:
Software development is always a very huge task. And as I said, we are not just upgrading from one version to another, we are building a whole new platform. Nothing in BlackBerry 10 is like it was on the BlackBerry OS, so please understand the size and the sheer amount of work that the teams are going through.
Will the company be around? As I said, the next quarters are going to be difficult, but we will still continue to grow in the rest of the world. We will face our challenges in the U.S. in the next six months, I understand that. But I am positive that when we launch BlackBerry 10, there will be huge support from our carrier partners, from our enterprise customers and that we will reemerge—specifically in the U.S. and in Canada—as a very strong player, not just in the smartphone market but also emerging into the mobile computing market.