Thorsten Heins: This Wave Is Unstoppable
The Philippines, along with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, will remain a key market for Research In Motion as they attempt to regain market share in the critical North American region, the company’s chief said.
In a briefing late Friday evening, RIM chief executive officer Thorsten Heins also expressed satisfaction at how countries in Southeast Asia have adopted BlackBerry devices, making the region one of the few bright spots on the company’s sales map.
Heins and RIM’s top executives have been on a four-week worldwide road show, meeting with heads of telecommunications firms to market its new BlackBerry 10 operating system and other devices in what industry analysts say is the company’s last chance of staving off a collapse.
Last Friday, RIM officials met with the top brass of local carriers Smart Communications and Globe Telecom Inc. to pitch BlackBerry 10 ahead of its much awaited launch in the first quarter of 2013.
Heins told reporters that the company has taken note of BlackBerry’s popularity in the region, despite its declining market share in North America and Europe amid the sharp growth in users of Apple and Android devices.
“The big driver for BlackBerry in the Asia-Pacific and countries like South Africa is really our BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service,” he said, referring to the company’s proprietary and secure instant messaging system. “BBM as a service has picked up so dramatically. It’s gone viral. This wave is unstoppable.”
Of the millions of BlackBerry users around the world, a significant number can be found in the region, with most of them having chosen the platform because of the BBM service, company officials said.
The craze is especially evident in Indonesia—Asean’s largest mobile phone market—where BlackBerry devices outsell iPhones made by US-based Apple.
To take advantage of this strength in the region, the RIM chief said that the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, along with its devices, would leverage off the BBM service with new features.
“Once you have this installed base [for BlackBerry in the region], it’s very [difficult] to compete against,” he said. “With BlackBerry 10, you will see a dramatic evolution in BBM.”
“We are introducing a whole new platform with Blackberry 10. Why did we do this? Why didn’t we go Android or anything else like Windows 8 or any other open platform that is out there? We want to serve our Blackberry users and customers best, and the way to do this is to keep the DNA of Blackberry alive,” Heins said.
The new products, he said, would have the processing power of a laptop which can run on dual or quad core processors and have high resolution displays.
RIM chief marketing officer Frank Boulben said the Blackberry 10 would have a competitive browser and an easy-to-use all-touch keyboard or physical keyboard.
Boulben said the Blackberry 10 has been designed for multitaskers and hyperconnected users who want to be productive in using their devices.
He said the firm is upbeat with the upcoming launch of the product as it has received positive feedback from carriers, including those in the Philippines.
“We’ve met about 40 carriers and in every country, every carrier we’ve met, we’ve seen fantastic reception for Blackberry 10,” he said.
While declining to reveal more features of the upgraded BBM service, Heins hinted that it would be able to send status updates on Facebook, which would be an attractive feature for Southeast Asia’s “hyper-connected” smartphone users.
“BBM as a platform is going to have much more features and capabilities,” he said, when asked about the company’s response to similar services being introduced by rival manufacturers like Apple with its iMessage service.
“The name of the game is to stay ahead of your competitors and innovate,” he said. “And we will innovate on BBM.”