RIM CEO Heins to developers: We have a 'clear shot' at No. 3

RIM's Thorsten Heins says with BlackBerry 10, the company will mount its worldwide comeback.

Casey Newton Former Senior Writer
Casey Newton writes about Google for CNET, which he joined in 2012 after covering technology for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is really quite tall.
Casey Newton
2 min read
RIM CEO Thorstein Heins says BlackBerry is about to mount its comeback.
RIM CEO Thorstein Heins says BlackBerry is about to mount its comeback. Lynn La/CNET

Research In Motion has had a hard slog over the past year, but is poised to reclaim its spot among the top mobile ecosystems, CEO Thorsten Heins said today during a press briefing at BlackBerry Jam.

Heins said the company's decision to bet everything on its new BlackBerry 10 operating system would allow the company to begin growing its user base once again in the United States and North America, where it has rapidly lost ground to devices from Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft, among others.

"We have a clear shot at being the No. 3 platform in the market," said Heins, who took the reigns at RIM nine months ago. "Carriers want other platforms. And we're not just another open platform running on another system. We're BlackBerry."

Becoming no. 3 in installed base of mobile devices would mean surpassing Symbian, which currently holds that spot. Android and iOS are the top two mobile platforms by a comfortable margin.

Heins said developers are eager to build apps for BlackBerry's base of 80 million users around the world, and said BlackBerry 10 was the most productive version of the operating system to date.

But for all the cheerleading, there was little in the way of concrete information about the new platform: when the new devices will be available, beyond reiterating it will be in the first quarter of 2013; how they will be priced; which carriers it has signed; and, crucially, why mainstream consumers are likely to opt for these devices over robust offerings on iOS and Android.

The company also declined to discuss financial data, citing a mandatory quiet period in advance of its earnings report on Thursday.

"BlackBerry 10 is on track," Heins said. "Our sales forces are getting ready. Better devices are in testing."

Heins' remarks came after a nearly two-hour demonstration of BlackBerry 10's user interface, which employs a system called "Peek" to allow for fast switching between apps, messages, and notifications. In a demonstration, it appeared to be an elegant way to check in quickly on various corners of the operating system. At the same time, engineers struggled at times to get it to work, occasionally having to swipe up two or three times before the gesture started to work.

RIM executives worked nonetheless to rally developers back to the company's side, pledging that certified developers will make at least $10,000 from their apps (if they meet a few conditions), and appearing in a whimsical music video together that quickly went viral in tech circles.