BlackBerry 10 Smartphones Coming in January, Says CEO Heins

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins narrowed the arrival of RIM's BlackBerry 10 smartphones from "Q1" to "January," in an interview with The Telegraph that yielded several notable nuggets.

Research In Motion will release its first BlackBerry 10 smartphones in January, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins told The Telegraph, according to an interview published Aug. 2.

Until now, the long-awaited platform and world-class new smartphones have been relegated to a vaguer future in "the first quarter of calendar 2013," as Heins first told analysts during RIM's June 28 earnings call. It was during that call that Heins announced the latest delay to the BlackBerry 10 launch and confirmed a plan to lay off 5,000€”two pieces of information that, as much as RIM's revenue or global growth, have fueled newly aggressive chatter about RIM's demise.

The host of a Canadian radio program, for example, shortly afterward suggested to Heins that the company is in a "death spiral"€”a phrase that, sadly for RIM, has proven to have great sticking power.

Speaking with The Telegraph, Heins again denied the death spiral suggestion, as well as shook off any comparisons to Nokia and its troubles.

"Our platform isn't burning," Heins said, referencing an internal memo that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop sent to his staff before announcing that the company was turning its allegiance from Symbian to Microsoft's Windows Phone OS.

Nokia recently doubled sales of its Windows Phone-running Lumia, selling 4 million of the devices during its last quarter. Heins, noting that RIM has a single phone that alone has sold 45 million units, told The Telegraph he was surprised by the all the credit Windows Phone has already received.

"What are the proof points for its 'success'?" Heins said, according The Telegraph.

He added, however, that like Nokia, RIM considered an OS change and gave Android serious consideration. But ultimately, he explained, it would have offered RIM little room to differentiate itself and stepped too far away from what RIM as a company is.

"If you understand what the promise of BlackBerry is to its user base, it's all about getting stuff done," Heins said, according to the report. "Games, media, we have to be at it, but we have to support those guys who are ahead of the game [and have] very little time to consume and enjoy content. If you stay to that purpose, you have to build on that basis."

At RIM's BlackBerry World 2012 event in May, Heins likewise told the audience that BlackBerry users are a breed apart.

While 87 percent of BlackBerry users access social networks from their phone daily, only 63 percent of overall smartphone users do, just as 65 percent of overall users turn to organizational tools on a daily basis, compared with 91 percent of BlackBerry users, Heins told the audience during his keynote.

"You tell us that we help you get things done. You're more productive and competitive with a BlackBerry. You can respond faster, you're agile, you're nimble and you can stay ahead with a BlackBerry," Heins added, explaining that this is "the purpose of the company," to help people achieve their successes.

Going with Android would have also forced RIM to lose what it, like Apple, considers a major edge€”control over of all parts of its ecosystem.

"I think there's a huge difference between somebody who just provides the phone and the hardware and someone who provides services," Heins told The Telegraph.

That said, he added that RIM is open to the possibility of licensing out its platform. Just as Samsung, for example, currently offers Android handsets, perhaps someday it could offer the BlackBerry platform.

"We're investigating this, and it's way too early to get into any details," Heins said. But whether RIM or a future partner makes the devices its platform runs on, he added, "We will not abandon the subscriber base."

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.