So many of us are eagerly anticipating the launch of BlackBerry 10 in the New Year. RIM’s CEO knows how much is riding on a successful launch as we outlined in the previous post. In part 2 of an interview with Arthur Goldstuck of MarkLives, Thor continues his sermon on the gospel of BlackBerry 10. This time he talks about how BlackBerry 10 will compete with iPhone, Android and Windows 8, how the dreaded spinning clock will no longer be the cause of a smashed phone, and what RIM’s secret weapon is moving forward.
Here are the highlights of the interview along with my thoughts after each question.
Arthur Goldstuck: How will BlackBerry 10 compete with the appeal and intuitiveness of the iPhone, Android and Windows 8?
BlackBerry is a multitasking device – now we are making that the forefront of the device. We are building true multitasking into the forefront.
The new operating system is truly multi-threaded. It allows several applications to run at the same time, in real time, and not on an in-out-in-out basis. We have all the apps not just on a grid, but up and running on a grid, so the moment you hit them, they are running on the grid.
At launch, there will be three full-screen devices with a virtual keyboard, and three devices with a physical QWERTY keyboard, but you will have the same BlackBerry 10 experience on all of these.
Again, Thor is touting flow as what will differentiate BB10 from the competition. I know I believe it can be a huge game changer, amazing marketing could make it happen. Its interesting to note the wording of the final paragraph where he says there will be 3 full touch and 3 qwerty devices ‘at launch.’ We have heard rumors of launch timing, but this intrigues me. I’m guessing he is referring to the launch as a longer process where devices are released with some time between each. I don’t see RIM pushing out 6 BB10 devices at exactly the same time.
AG: Will BlackBerry 10 address the concerns and frustrations users have with the current device always freezing, the wait for applications to load, the slow App World, and the poor browsing experience?
BlackBerry 7 is a good OS, but it’s a computing engine and you have to constantly upgrade a computing engine. Upgrades are difficult because it’s an integrated architecture, and you have to ask network operators to get it into their labs all the time. Part of our evolution is the recognition that we can’t go on like this. We realised we can’t go on with a 15-year-old BlackBerry OS. It served us well, at the time it was a wonderful invention based on the idea of a mobile messaging machine, but now it has to do something new.
I understand the frustrations about the freezes: that is a result of a platform reaching its limitations. We couldn’t go on like this, so we rebuilt it from scratch.
I’ve had a BlackBerry 10 device on my hip for eight weeks. I have never had to reset it, and it has never frozen. The key is in the multi-kernel: if you hit a process and it does not execute properly, the icon goes grey, but the device carries on working. Just that one process gets restarted. It has a wonderful recovery process; it blocks this one process and the others continue to flow. It goes deep into the technology of the microkernel multi-threading process, and that allows us to have an immensely reliable system.
I want us to be the company that manages all mobile computing end points, whether in a phone or car, across the data network globally. Today we are connecting 654 carriers, and our system is being used to carry data, reliably, across these networks.
That’s the vision for the company. I want to take it into the mobile computing space and be clear leader in that space.
We can all agree that the old BBOS needs a full refresh. I still get an occasional spinning clock on my 9900 which is extremely frustrating when I’m trying to get something done. I love that Thor hasn’t had to reset his BB10 device in 8 weeks. We’ve heard him talk about mobile computing before and after reading his answer to the next question, we catch a glimpse of his vision for the future of RIM.
Which leads to BlackBerry’s secret weapon…
AG: That data layer across most networks globally sounds like an incredible strategic asset – BlackBerry’s secret weapon. How do you plan to leverage it?
TH (nodding vigorously):
This is the secure, reliable connectivity layer for mobile computing that sits on top of carrier networks. They can run their own services across it, but the secure layer on top of this, globally, will come from us.
Think of a car manufacturer that sells cars globally, and needs to address all in-car computers from a certain series, and get a message out, like ‘Put the car in the garage for the next 24 hours because we are giving it a big software update’. How many vehicle recalls do you see these days? Imagine the time and cost that can be saved if we can provide telemetry data from all these cars, on a globally connected system, and with the endpoints managed for reliability and security.
There is so much to do right now – it is overwhelming in terms of priorities. RIM needs to figure out where to be the enabler, and where to utilise our own servers. But the opportunity is huge: mobile computing, end-point management, API’s created to add sensors to devices, using the mobile data network for distribution – basically any vertical application where we think we have a play, and where we can use our push and compression services.
Smartphones and tablets part of it, but they are not the only purpose of the company.
I couldn’t be happier about the about face RIM has taken since Heins took the helm. It hasn’t all been lollipops and rainbows, but he has made some bold moves that could pay huge dividends. I love the focus on BlackBerry’s classic strengths: messaging, multitasking, security, and data compression. They truly do have a huge strategic asset in their secure, reliable, global connectivity layer that runs on top of carrier networks, and if leveraged properly, could be the secret weapon necessary for RIM to catapult right back into the thick of the mobile computing battlefield.
All that’s left now is to deliver the goods! Bring on BlackBerry 10!