RIM CEO: BlackBerry 10 Needs Business Users, Consumers

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has been told that BlackBerry could tank before making it to BlackBerry 10's release-the finish line. Heins sat down with eWEEK to talk about the hardest part of the race.

Thorsten Heins, amid pressure from shareholders, was promoted from chief operating officer to chief executive officer of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion in January, replacing co-founder and CEO Mike Lazaridis and co-CEO Jim Balsillie. The pair had together built a smartphone solution that analysts called the gold standard, with devices so addictive they earned the moniker "CrackBerries."

In June 2010, RIM's revenue rose 24 percent to $4.24 billion, it shipped its 100 millionth BlackBerry smartphone and it gained 4.9 million net new subscribers. Its smartphones were the darlings of the enterprise, a sacrosanct territory that the Apple iPhone-amid much controversy-was just beginning to penetrate.

Then, seemingly helpless to stop it, Lazaridis and Balsillie watched their empire take a two-year nosedive.

The economy had weakened, businesses were looking for ways to trim spending, tens of millions of iPhone owners were engaging with their phones to unprecedented degrees, and a wall fell down. CIOs began implementing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies to bridge the divide between personal time and work, and high-end Android-running devices followed the iPhones inside.

"When the consumer hit the enterprise with BYOD ... there was the thought, 'They're going to go back to corporate liable, it's not secure enough,'" Heins, told eWEEK, offering a take on where RIM went wrong.

In June 2012, the company announced a quarterly loss of $518 million, the imminent departure of 5,000 employees and a second delay, to early 2013, of the launch of BlackBerry 10-a new mobile platform on new smartphones that together are RIM's big hope for turning the company around. On a Canadian radio program shortly after the announcement, the host described RIM as being in a "death spiral" and told Heins that in six months' time, "RIM may not even be around."