Speaking to the press today shortly after the unveiling of the latest beta version of BlackBerry 10 and a new developer device, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins discussed BlackBerry 10's chances on the market. He argues that BlackBerry 10 is going to have a chance to beat Windows Phone 8 out as the next platform after iPhone and Android. "We have a clear shot at being the number three platform on the market. We're not just another open platform on the market, we are BlackBerry."
"It has all the table stakes we need to have for consumer [success]," Heins said. He pointed out that the unique features of BlackBerry 10, including the BlackBerry Hub and its new multitasking UI, add on to those stakes to represent a real contender. He was careful to note that the BlackBerry Hub, in particular, is more compelling than it seems at first blush, "BlackBerry Hub is not just a unified inbox." He also continued a theme that RIM has been hitting often lately, that the iPhone UI is getting a little long in the tooth. That's something that Microsoft has also pointed out, that jumping in and out of apps may not be ideal for power users. For Heins, it's about better multitasking: "The application grid is a reservoir," he says, from which you can simply "throw [apps] into your multitasking zone" where you will actually use them. It is indeed a new smartphone interaction model, but whether it will appeal to the audiences that RIM is trying to reach — consumers, power users, enterprise users, and those oft-mentioned "BlackBerry People" — remains to be seen.
"You climb a mountain step by step."
RIM's new Chief Marketing Officer, Frank Boulben pointed out that RIM has changed its structure to create one single, integrated marketing organization. He also discussed an upcoming marketing campaign focusing on the BlackBerry 10 keyboard, which will be released before the OS itself. It will showcase the keyboard's "flick" feature that lets you automatically enter words by flicking up on a letter. He says that this type of "realtime marketing" will ramp up between now and launch.
Asked why he wasn't aiming for one or two, Heins said "you climb a mountain step by step." He made a distinction between the current reality and his aspirations: "I'm not thinking about BlackBerry being the number one smartphone, BlackBerry needs to be number one in mobile computing." Heins believes that RIM isn't just building a single device right now, but an "entire mobile computing platform." We imagine that Microsoft will have something to say about who will be number one (or two, or three) in mobile computing before the time BlackBerry 10 actually launches. That target date is still Q1 2013.