Toronto - Research In Motion's new chief executive unveiled a prototype
BlackBerry smartphone powered by a new operating system, the very
software that the company has pinned its future on.
Heins, who took the CEO job in January, revealed features of the
BlackBerry 10 operating system running on a prototype device at the
company's BlackBerry World conference in Orlando. He provided no update
on the software's launch date.
Heins, who is trying to rally
developers to make applications for the new operating system, promised
that each developer at the conference will go home with the prototype
In a speech that was broadcast on the company's
BlackBerry World website, Heins stressed that the device is not the
"We're taking our time to make sure we get this right," Heins said.
once iconic company has had difficulty competing with flashier,
consumer-oriented phones such as Apple's iPhone and models that run
Google's Android software.
Heins made his first major speech
since replacing long-time chiefs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in
January. Lazaridis announced a month earlier that the often-delayed
operating system would be delayed again until later this year.
Analysts say RIM's future depends on the new BlackBerry 10 software platform, although many say it may be too late.
very, very confident we will be there later this year with an exciting
product. Make no mistake, this is not the final device, this is not the
final hardware," Heins said.
"But it's a very, very important milestone for us."
prototype BlackBerry has a touch screen, but no physical keyboard like
most BlackBerry models. One of the new features is a modified touch
screen keypad that will allow users to select full words with a single
RIM has had limited success trying to enter consumer
markets in recent years, particularly with high-end devices that sport
touch screens popular with consumers. Touch screen BlackBerrys that lack
physical keyboards have largely flopped.
BlackBerrys also lag iPhones and Android phones when it comes to the number of third-party applications they can run.
Canadian company has long dominated the corporate smartphone market.
Its BlackBerrys are known for their security and reliability. US
President Barack Obama even refused to part with his BlackBerry after he
But RIM faces threats from the "bring your own
device" movement, in which employees bring their personal iPhones or
Android devices to work instead of relying on BlackBerrys issued by
RIM's annual conference comes as the company has
been undergoing a comprehensive strategic review for the last three
months. Heins acknowledged the difficulties.
"A lot has been said
and written about BlackBerry in this time. You've seen, I've seen it
and our customers have seen it," Heins said.
"Let me make be
very, very clear with you. I'm here because I believe in the unique
value that BlackBerry delivers to our customers."
analyst Peter Misek, who is in Orlando for the conference, said Heins
gave a good speech in front of a bigger-than-expected crowd but said
someone at RIM should have given the speech a year ago.
just get the feeling that I wish they had it out already. It's going to
be a challenge for them. When they launch BlackBerry 10 devices the
iPhone 5, Windows 8 and all the Android devices will all be out," Misek
said. "It sure does feel like it's getting close to being too late."
declined to hold a presentation for analysts at the conference this
year. Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Financial, called that a smart
move because it kept a sense of doom out of the event.
said BlackBerry 10 is a solid operating system but it probably won't be
enough to turn around the Canadian company. Gillis said it's more
important for them to get it out right than to quickly release a flawed
"It's too soon to cast final judgment on the platform.
Let's see what they do. Let's see if people build [applications] for the
platform," Gillis said from New York.