“We need to respect that. Am I a bit disappointed? Yeah, I would be lying saying no. But it is what it is, and we’re working with all our carrier partners to speed it up as much as we can,” Heins said in the interview at the Ritz Carlton in Toronto, ahead of the debut of the touch-only model in Canada, RIM’s home.
RIM unveiled new BlackBerrys after excruciating delays allowed Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and others to build commanding leads in the industry. There’s concern the phone isn’t coming out sooner than the March date for the U.S. announced earlier.
Black and white versions of the touch-screen Z10 were released in the U.K. last month. Heins said early data suggest that a substantial number of U.K. users are moving from other systems to BlackBerry, even though RIM initially targeted longtime BlackBerry users.
“It’s beyond expectations,” Heins said in the interview. “White is sold out already. The black is hard to stock up again. It’s very encouraging. I won’t share the number because I need to verify it, but we are getting a substantial number of users moving from other platforms to BlackBerry.”
In Canada, telecom provider Bell said advance orders for the Z10 exceeded that of any previous BlackBerry model. “We’re seeing intense interest today,” Bell spokesman Mark Langton said.
“Sales are quite robust.”
Heins said the company would have to regain market share in the U.S. for BlackBerry to be successful.
The U.S. has been one market in which RIM has been particularly hurting, even as the company is doing well in many places overseas. According to research firm IDC, shipments of BlackBerry phones plummeted from 46 percent of the U.S. market in 2008 to 2 percent in 2012. The iPhone and Android now dominate.
Heins, who one year ago replaced longtime executives who had presided over BlackBerry’s fall, said he’s confident BlackBerry can become a third choice behind the iPhone and Android.
“We need to win back market share to be relevant,” Heins said. “We have to be aggressive in the U.S. market.”
Some analysts have questioned RIM’s decision to release a touch-only version first considering that its most loyal users love the physical keyboard for typing.
Heins said the full touch screen was more complicated, so the company needed to focus on releasing that first. He has also acknowledged that RIM failed to quickly adapt to the emerging “bring your own device” trend, in which employees bring their personal touch-screen iPhones or Android devices to work instead of relying on BlackBerrys issued by their employers.
Heins said the company wants to participate in that trend by releasing a touch version first.
Heins also addressed possible interest other companies might have in RIM should BlackBerry 10 prove successful and whether the Canadian government might block a foreign takeover.
“The recognition for BlackBerry 10 and what we built is pretty high. We got good reviews,” he said. “That moves you into the middle of the radar screen so I expect some activity around it but we’ll look at it one by one. We’ll assess it and we’ll make decisions with the board on what make sense.”<< previous 1 2