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RIM’s CEO, Thorsten Heins, Carries Rival Smartphones to Stay Educated

BlackBerry Bold 9900 iPhone 4S Samsung Galaxy S III

One of the questions I have been asked many times over the years is if RIM’s employees actively test out other devices. RIM’s CEO, Thorsten Heins, was quite frank about it in the recent interview with He mentioned that alongside his BlackBerry he does make a point of staying educated about the smartphone market and rivals. That means he always has a second device that is a competitor device so he knows where they stand. Currently Heins is carrying a Samsung Galaxy S III now though he has previously used an iPhone to understand touch devices. He also mentioned that he switches them up regularly.

Just to drive this point home I also make a point of carrying around a competitors device for comparison. (Currently also a Samsung Galaxy S III) Not doing so would be like sticking your head in the ground like a mindless fanboy. That is exactly what RIM does not need. They need their employees all the way up to the C suite able to see exactly what they need to implement in BlackBerry 10 to differentiate and succeed in the face of stiff competition. That means they need to be intimately familiar with their competitions strengths and weaknesses.

What do you think?

10 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. This is good. In the past many at RIM not only seemed to think the BlackBerry was the only phone, but also that the core apps that came with the phone were the only ones that people needed to use.

  2. Yes, it is good to know your competition to ensure your product is up to snuff. But the problem with this is it is like benchmarking RIMs future products against the competitors past products, which is exactly the trap RIM needs to get out of. RIM will not gain marketshare by following, copying or making evolutionary changes to devices. They need to be innovative and make revolutionary changes.

    Everything I have seen of BB10 looks cut and paste from Android, iOS or WP7. Sure QNX is very powerful, and the UI is smooth, but there is nothing revolutionary about it.

    • Have you used the BB10? Not the dev alpha but actual device? If not how did you reach the conclusion that it is not innovative?

      People need to stop pretending to be clairvoyant.

      • I am basing this on what they have announced, nothing more. And what they have announced is pretty limited I will admit. Which from where RIM is sitting now is just plain scary, they should be providing a reason for customers to stay loyal, they aren’t, and the next few months will prove this.

        My question back to you is, what have they announced that is revolutionary, innovative, or game changing that is going to cause people to ditch their iOS and Android devices (along with all the apps they have purchased for those devices) and move to a new, unproven device, with a limited app selection, released by a company that is now shedding half a billion of cash per quarter?

    • The card system and UI navigation is more like webos than anything remotely representing IOS or Android, so I’m not really sure where you get that from.

      Also BB10’s features aren’t even identical to the PB, so how do you figure…

      Also IOS is basically pulling minor changes (that are generally in other platforms) at this point.

  3. It’s a great point, but they need to keep the trackpad for the upcoming keyboard device. I wonder if they feel that way when using a competitors device and not having it there for such precise selecting, to get things done! Fast!

  4. Agreed. The trackpad, along with the covienance keys and the keyboard are synonymous with blackberry thus separating it from other mobile devices.

  5. Excellent!! I really love to know that they study others strengths and weaknesses. I believe they will bring innovations to BB10 devices which is expected from RIM.

    Keep up the pace…

  6. I think its great that RIM keeps on looking at what the competition is doing, even if its current generation stuff like the S3. Nothing wrong with going “mmm.. thats cool, but why dont we add this to make it even cooler?”

  7. I should hope this would be a no-brainer! I guarantee you plenty of high level folks at the likes of Apple and Google and Microsoft were carrying a Blackberry back in the day, both to see the then current state of the art AND what was wrong with it.

    I know I am just now finally experiencing Android, having finally replaced my aged Storm2. Talk about a light years jump! Yet there are things my Storm2 did that this phone can’t.

    So there is much to be learned by actively using the competition by the C-level folks. They are the ones who set the corporate direction, and MUST be looking at not only how to match the current state of the art, but how to leapfrog it.

    And yeah…please RIM keep the trackpad and hardware convenience keys. And please oh please give me a “tab” key on the soft AND hard keyboards. If there’s one thing I miss about 7xxx and below devices it is the way the thumb wheel worked as a “tab” in the browser.

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