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"Let's Rock and Roll this!" CrackBerry's Interview with RIM's new CEO Thorsten Heins

CrackBerry talks to Thorsten Heins
By Kevin Michaluk on 26 Jan 2012 09:22 pm EST
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Part I of CrackBerry's Interview with RIM's new CEO

Just as the news became public Sunday night that Thorsten Heins was named the new CEO of Research In Motion, I received a phone call from him letting me know personally that he won the leadership race and it wouldn't be CrackBerry Kevin and a Ham Sandwich at the reigns of RIM in 2012. It was a classy gesture and a clear signal that RIM moving forward will be more engaged with its user community. On that call Thorstein promised he'd give us a few more minutes of his time this week so we could actually throw a few questions his way (as you can imagine, I was completely unprepared for the first call!). RIM's new CEO delivered on his first promise to CrackBerry Nation and on Wednesday I was able to connect with Thorsten again.

Between Monday's RIM conference call, the official BlackBerry youtube videos, and the various television interviews Thorsten has given this week to other media outlets, we've already seen and heard a lot from the new BlackBerry Chief. A lot of the things said have given us plenty of reason to get excited for this new era of BlackBerry, while some of the messages making their way out into the media seem to already be shooting the new leadership direction down before it has even had a hint of a chance to execute. So I took this opportunity to get clarification on some of the mixed messages that have been making their way out there and dig deeper into other topics that have been covered this week. We cover a lot of things and found Thorsten to be great to talk to -- personable and a straight shooter with a sense of humor. In true CrackBerry fashion we will be be bringing the goods to the blogs here in a series of posts, so you'll want to keep it locked to CrackBerry. 

But before we get to the heavier hitting questions we start with a couple of easy ones... listen above or keep reading as we break the ice and get the ball rolling on CrackBerry's first interview with the CEO of Research In Motion. I've been waiting five years to do one of these, so yeah... we're going to rock and roll this!!

Interview Part 1: Let's Rock and Roll This!

Kevin: It was honestly so cool you calling us on Sunday night. What a way to get everybody so energized and excited. All our members, all our readers are just... Holy Smokes! They couldn't believe it.

Thorsten: I see the same level of excitement and energy in the company now. On Monday we had our all-hands meeting. That was 14,000 people worldwide and that was the first ever global meeting RIM has held so it was a logistical masterpiece. I chatted with the folks -- lots of questions, good discussions -- and there came a theme out of it. I must have said somewhere at the end to inspire the people and get the message across "Let's rock and roll this!". Now I see this everywhere as their BlackBerry theme. "Let's rock and roll this"... I like that. 

Kevin: Thorsten, it's your 3rd day on the job, I don't want your position anymore, but do you still want it, 3 days in?
Thorsten:
Oh absolutely. *Laughs* I'm just getting into it, so come on! The energy is rising in RIM and the company is going through a good mood right now, a lot of fresh air in the hallways - I'm more positive than ever.

Kevin: Perfect. Another quick question. Have you spent any significant amount of time yourself on iOS or Android devices so you know the competition, what BlackBerry is up against and the road ahead?

Thorsten: Oh I do this on a regular basis. First I have a whole team that constantly checks all the devices that are on the market, and I pick them specifically when I get told that our device kind of doesn't sell against this one and I do my own testing. Frankly I use my son and my daughters as well, they're pretty decent BlackBerry testers and they're tech fiends, so I hand some stuff to them and ask them what they think and they give me plenty of good ideas. I have to do this; you need to know where you are.

 

Keep it locked to CrackBerry... more from RIM's new CEO will be hitting the blogs soon!   

Read CrackBerry's 1st Interview with RIM's CEO

Reader comments

"Let's Rock and Roll this!" CrackBerry's Interview with RIM's new CEO Thorsten Heins

44 Comments

Count me in!!! Oh I thought this is a contest for CEO position of RIM.

Thorsten, I can be a tester too if you want :)

My suggestion if you could read this is, Have a some sort of communication where you could ask BB User, what is the problem you have in your current BB device and how can we improve it. Then ask a non-BB user what is hindering you in buying a BB or what would it takes for you to jump ship from your current smartphone to BB. Something like that.

IMHO, I would like to see a device that would compete with iPhone and top Android market, meaning a touch screen device with pretty awesome specs that would surpas other current phone specs.. A native Bold form factor with more powerful specs, and a cheapberry to cater more people who want to have a BB.

Here in the Philippines BB is emerging, but for Php 8,000.00 for a old specs like 8520, they rather spend it in an awesome specs like Nokia or Samsung or LG.

"Let's rock and roll this." He obviously reads my posts....:)
RIM is rolling!!

Great job with the interview, Kevin.
Welcome, Thor!

This is a COOL CEO. You know, since I've met Kevin before, and Kevin meets CEO, it almost seems like I'm close to the CEO LOL!

But yes, sometimes a user opinion is quite important, what they like, hate about it etc... that 3 minute of his time just got himself cool rating +100

Kevin you the man! Thorsten good luck buddy. I'm one of those "guys on the street", loving all my blackberry devices and really excited about the future of RIM.
Now get out there and hit a BB 10 home run!

This guys difference in attitude is a breath of fresh air. I'm pretty stoked about RIM moving forward. Cool to see he uses competing devices, pretty sure Lazaridis never did this.

Oh come on Kevin! You're gonna make us wait for the other (next) parts?! Inquiring minds want to know! :) But seriously, keep up the good work! I see BGR hasn't had RIM's CEO call them! They rely on news coming from disgruntled RIM employees where as you/Crackberry gets it first hand right from the top!

This is so Awesome!!!!! But I would still want to know what is his current device is maybe something that hasn't been release yet

Hey guys, the new CEO will definitely be reading the comments. Offer your ideas now!

1) Blackberry picture development via nfc (you know the kodak terminals at walmart!)
2) Blackberry baby monitor (walk around the house, watch your kid sleeping) already exists on other platforms
3) Blackberry videogame remote (bluetooth or nfc). Lets be real - playing games using touch is just silly. LAN party(Imagine Mario Kart w/ 16 playbooks)
4) Partner with Nintendo/Sega. Offer them crazy royalties. They will spend the money on marketing
5) Blackberry linked devices (TV, stereos)
6) Blackberry TV (Second SIM card in device for decoding as Satellite receivers do) 1 signal per cell tower. Watch live TV without using data plan!

Just keep it locked here Thorsten, you will learn all the good to make even better and all the bad to improve. RIMPIRE!

First poster is funny. I don't. Think you can also buy a descent nokia or Samsung smartphone for 8k pesos.

Really great to see that the CEO is doing this. I believe it signals RIM's confidence in the fact that QNX can deliver a quality consumer experience.

I also sense this guy will finally let loose with a massive ad campaign when BB10 is ready! (I just hope they rebrand again before then, it just isn't sexy).

I'm really getting excited for rim again . I can feel the positive energy already . Thorsten's not waisting any time implementing his plan. Kick ass Thorsten and Lets Rock and Roll This!

Ideas: QNX os for pc open source to try and crack the ms monopoly and to get QNX out there .
Blackberry need to get on the text book market .
Blackberry tv os.
Oh app world web site to show case all the new apps

Great to read he tries competitor devices!

He strikes me as a person coming into the new role well-informed and eager to put out great products and services.

Mr Thorstien,can we pretty please with sweet juicy blackberrys on top rock and roll out playbook 2.0 within the next week? Let's shake up the WORLD!!!!

ask the new guy if he saw that pic! the one with the wrap around screen. ask if he even consider it...just ask, i'm saying. it really was a kickass looking phone, admirable from ANY company, but a game-changer for RIM.

Can we get the whole interview at once instead 2 questions at a time??... Please!!

When you make us wait like this, it reminds me of TV news promos... "New research indicates using 2 bathroom products at once will kill you!... Tune in tomorrow at 6 to find out what they are.".... WTF?!... What if I use them BEFORE tomorrow?!... Just tell me already! hahaba

Finally. Mike just didn't have the passion for the company sound in his voice that you can hear in Thorsten.

Thorsten, its going to be a tough road ahead, don't get discouraged though, push to get the best out of RIM's Developers. They have done it before and can do it again.

You need to create a phone with a few things

1) Extreme Processing Power (1 GHz duel core at least go for quad if you can)
2) Crisp touch screen display (higher resolution the better)
3) Create deals with large development groups to bring applications to the marketplace for cheap and free version (even if it means taking a lesser cut in the long term if people see the big groups are developing for bb they won't want to miss out on the action)
4) Better Cameras (Yes we all know that this is completely unnecessary but half of North America just sees that Blackberry "only have 5 and apple and android developers do 8" so they assume well the others must be better.
5) RIM controlled updates (Tell the Service Providers that you need to control this, it will give you more power over the OS and solve a lot of problems)
6) More public betas (You have a massive group of fans right here on this site who would do testing for you for free, push more applications into their hands it will make things better for everyone)

I am a University of Waterloo Computer Engineering Student. All I want if for RIM to succeed and return to the great company that it has the potential to be. Please push all your developers; you have to move fast getting some big changes out there (Don't worry so much about being innovative, work on making sure everyone knows RIM is up to par with everyone else and your not going anywhere)

Let's Rock and Roll this....got my adrenaline pumping. I like it.

I am starting to like this Thorsten guy as CEO...seems like he'll steady the ship without making drastic direction changes.

I love that he delivered on his promise of calling CB back. That might be the biggest gesture of a great CEO in keeping his word. Can't wait to see what else is in store for RIM!!!

Kevin, ask him if he would like to see some of the ideas we artists here at Crackberry have created with the submissions of our work of the Dream BlackBerry 10 device.

There's the John A. Wrap Around Screen design and I sent in two of my ideas as well.

We'll since this is becoming post your wish list time, I'll add mine.

I hope if there is a qwerty BB10 device, that it will have a trackpad too. I like that I can access anything by just touching the trackpad a little. I don't have to reach all over the screen. I can't stand fingerprints all over a screen.

I think battery life is more important than a super thin device. It would really distinguish Blackberry if the new devices had good battery life, even if the devices had to be a little thicker than the competition to have room for a large battery.

Awesome interview Kevin! Congrats on this! Very cool indeed.

Peace!

____________________________________________________________

in the time of your life, live so that in that good time, there should be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life that your life touches, seek goodness everywhere

Peoples are well too excited about this news.

The CEO was happy to tell that he asks his family for testing, ideas and comments about BlackBerry products and even though he has a team that checks the competition on a regular basis he should go a little further and do some research on a large scale. It's not supposed to be his children that do the testing and comparison but a full team of knowledgeable and technical people that care about every single detail and know every aspect of the competition as well as they know their own products. They should do this on a full time schedule and not only one person, a team should do the work and the CEO, decision board should work very closely with that team.

They should stop "wanting to be" like Androids or Iphones because 1st they have too much work to do and by the time they get to that point the competition will have time to go much further and BlackBerry will always be last and try to follow and do what the leaders do. Remember, Android didn't even exist a few years back and see what it is now. Google has the power to move forward its Android platform very quickly, they put the right investment in human resources to have enough engineers, developers and testers to do the work and deliver in a short time frame. Apple in the other hand spend so much time on the small details to make sure their iphones will be beautiful, reliable, simple and so easy to use. Both are not perfect, and BlackBerry still has advantages on several aspects.

I am a software quality analyst and this is my work to test software and compare to improve the quality. I have been using BlackBerry for years and now switched to the iPhone a month ago.

I kept my BlackBerry data plan so I will always be ready to come back, but things have to change first.

- The OS/User Interface has to be easier to use. No need to go from point A to Z to B. When A to B is possible, just do it. A major work has to be done on the UI. The style should also be updated.
- The OS has to be more reliable. No more need to remove the battery or reset the phone.
- The BlackBerry Desktop software has to be more reliable, with less bugs. A lot of peoples must have had headaches trying to connect their handset to their computers.
- Could be a personal opinion but I hate the "tray" that has been added in OS6, so it must be removed. As I said when A to B is possible, do it. I liked in OS5 when I just had to click on the Blackberry logo button to view the apps.
- Don't be scared to put great cameras, and do not compromise quality. If you know that the competition already has an 8mp camera on the market why would you put a 5mp camera on your high end device that will be released a year later?
- Keep the quality of the phone. When I say phone I mean the software to make and receive calls, the call quality. Blackberry is still better for phone calls than every competitor.
- Keep the sound profiles. I miss this feature so much. Iphone really sucks for this.
- I know that the trend is all about touch screen phones but you should keep at least one or more devices with a physical keyboard. I don't think that a physical keyboard will still be necessary in 10 years but for the 3 or 4 upcoming years I am sure it will be welcome, if the other aspects mentioned have been improved.
- Don't wait years to develop a feature that the competitors have and that peoples want so much. Like the Wifi Hotspot.
- Don't forget your original idea and who the BlackBerries were built for: Business. Social networks, games, videos are all very important, yes. But don't forget your "business" advantage, focus on that, and continue developing tools for businesses.
- Put a "design standard" for the apps. I found that a lot, but a lot of apps were very ugly and buggy.
- Have more apps, quality apps. Even if your OS is improved, peoples like apps and games. Iphone's apps are great, there is a huge variety and even though they are not all perfect, most of them have a beautiful ui, and are easy to use.
- There are tons of things to change, to keep and to improve. I am sure peoples have great ideas and suggestions.

A word to the new CEO: Good luck!

I think he meant that he uses his family to test out ideas to get their opinions on things, not that they are his beta testers. They are real world users and their input is valuable.

Why RIM discriminates? For example, on the same website, same tablets are sold for almost double the price to Indians than to North Americans. This is more appalling considering North Americans make way more than Indians. Just because Indians have not kicked Blackberry on their butts and have given Blackberry the respect, RIM is being arrogant with Indians. RIM is acting like that masochist teenage girl who likes bad boys who abuse her but shuns boys who treat her with respect. Shame on you Thorsten Heins and the entire RIM team. I wrote to you but you don’t listen.
I believe you make really good products but unfortunately complacency, hubris, incompetence, stupidity and perhaps even racism has set in the mindset of RIM. If international markets are going to be where you will make your mark, you better start treating non-white folks with respect and not try to squeeze their last drop of blood. The ex-colonial powers already did that and other multinational corporations are also doing a great job of it.
Give me an answer:
Why on the same website you have this differential?
http://in.shopblackberry.com/Product/BlackBerry-PlayBook/PRD-38548-052
http://store.shopblackberry.com/
US$1 = Rs 50