Thorsten Heins was the CEO and President of the BlackBerry corporation, previously Research In Motion. Heins also sat on the board of directors. He succeeded co-CEOs and founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis after they stepped down in January 2012. Thorsten Heins joined Research In Motion in 2007, and occupied roles as the Senior VP of the Handheld Business Unit, and various Chief Operating Officer positions prior to becoming CEO. Before joining BlackBerry, Heins was the CTO at Siemens.
He was born in Gifhorn, Germany on December 29, 1957, and studied science and physics at the University of Hanover. When not running BlackBerry, Heins likes riding motorcycles. And he's tall. Like really, really tall.
On November 4th, 2013 as BlackBerry called an end to their strategic review, Thorsten Heins announced he would be stepping down as CEO and interim CEO John S. Chen would take his place.
Aug 16, 2013
What to make of BlackBerry CEO’s compensation in the event of a change of control
Today I enjoyed reading an article from my friend Hugo Miller over at Bloomberg. He nicely summarizes the fact that Thorsten Heins stands to make $55.6 million in the event that BlackBerry is sold, and he is ousted as CEO. The details are all spelled out in a proxy filing from May.
I’ve read through the Bloomberg story and the proxy filing. The situation is fairly complex, and I haven’t bothered to do all the math for the various possible scenarios. But it is accurate to say that Thorsten Heins stands to be paid significantly more money if he is terminated in the event of a sale of BlackBerry compared to a termination that does not involve a sale of the company. The legal speak for a sale of the company you’ll find in proxy filings is “change of control”.
Aug 12, 2013
BlackBerry special committee to explore possible joint ventures, partnerships or even sale of company
BlackBerry has announced today that the board of directors has formed a special committee to "explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment". The plan for the committee is to explore possible ventures for BlackBerry and BlackBerry 10 including possible joint ventures, partnerships or even a sale of the company.
The committee is comprised of Barbara Stymiest, Thorsten Heins, Richard Lynch and Bert Nordberg, and will be chaired by Timothy Dattels.
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins added that:
"As the Special Committee focuses on exploring alternatives, we will be continuing with our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of BES 10, as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, launching the multi-platform BBM social messaging service, and pursuing mobile computing opportunities by leveraging the secure and reliable BlackBerry Global Data Network."
While the committee will look into these various options, there is no guarantee anything will come of it. Check out the full press release for more and read Chris' initial thoughts here.
Jul 15, 2013
BlackBerry CEO "absolutely not happy" with OS upgrade cycles through carriers
As a part of our chat with BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins following this year's annual general meeting, we touched on what's going on with Z10 and Q10 OS updates, in particular those that should be rolling out through American carriers. The day before, AT&T finally got around to sending out 10.1 out to Z10 owners, but we're still waiting on Verizon. Thorsten said he was "absolutely not happy" with how long it was taking for OS updates to get to end-users, and explained a bit about how they're working with carriers and how the internal thinking at BlackBerry is changing.
Jul 12, 2013
BlackBerry CEO talks about bringing trackpad lovers to BlackBerry 10
Something that came up in our interview with BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins following on the annual general meeting was the issue of educating users coming in from older, traditional OS 7 devices. Here on CrackBerry, we’ve definitely seen some new Q10 owners frustrated with the learning curve, meanwhile Z10 owners have opened the box without any expectations and ready to soak in a whole new experience.
One of the hurdles for new Q10 owners has been an inconsistency in keyboard shortcuts. Heins promised that we would be seeing more of those in 10.1 and 10.2 updates, including my beloved U keyboard shortcut in the hub. Unfortunately, not everything can always be included right out of the gate. As Heins explains, you need to make some tough decisions to keep things on schedule.
“In order to get BlackBerry 10 into the market, we also had to cut it somewhere and say, 'This is the package that we're going to go with,' because otherwise you never stop developing. We can have a long debate about whether this cutoff point was chosen correctly, but it is what it is. We had to do it. Otherwise we would have had to delay it even more.”
There’s also more work to be done with the out-of-the-box experience. There’s already a basic tutorial which runs through the major gestures in BlackBerry 10. They actually don’t include a skip option for this tutorial specifically because some folks thought they knew more than they really did on the gesture front. You’ll also notice some helpful arrows on the lock screen if you’re gesturing wrong to unlock. BlackBerry’s looking at extending these types of helpful hints throughout the OS. We'll get more on-screen hints about where the e-mail and calendar are, but the most interesting thing will be a little blue dot that will guide us where to go and how to use gestures.
“You move it, and then you decide when you want to switch it off. As long as you don't say, 'I learned it. I know it,' it will constantly appear and help you navigate the device. ... Yes, I think that what we will focus on in the next weeks, months, and quarters to come is really this education piece.”
Though most of us on CB won’t need to worry about that kind of stuff, this will be a great addition for those that aren’t quite as tech-savvy.
Let’s face it - we all know at least one of those guys that had a really hard time letting go of the old-school trackwheel, but I think it’s safe to say that in the case of touch input, change is good, so long as it’s done right. I’d love to see text cursor manipulation fine-tuned, since that was my primary use case for the trackpad, but so long as BlackBerry can smoothly and easily educate users on the basics of the user interface, they’ll be able to keep frustrations (and device returns) to a minimum.
May 03, 2013
Thorsten Heins includes a special note with new employee devices
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is a stand up guy all the way. We've seen him in person and in numerous interviews and appearances -- each time he continues to impress us. We're fairly sure that the employees at BlackBerry have taken a liking to him in the last year or so as well, especially after receiving their new BlackBerry 10 devices.
Included with their new corporate devices, Mr. Heins included a note that shows he is truly proud of the entire team at BlackBerry, their years of hard work and the future of the company.
Just goes to show that Thorsten Heins really is the right man for the job - we can't wait to see what's in store for BlackBerry Live in just a few weeks. The message here certainly is a good one and most definitely put a smile on some faces up in Waterloo.
Apr 30, 2013
I highly doubt Thorsten Heins thinks the tablet market will die
Yesterday, according to Bloomberg, Thorsten Heins dropped the following snipped: "In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore.” As usual, the media is jumping all over this with headlines that take the comments to an extreme. Hey, whatever gets the click for those guys.
I’m all about the balance. We reached out to BlackBerry to get some kind of clarification on this statement, hoping to included it in this story, but we’ve not heard back yet. When we do (and we always do), we’ll update the post.
Anyway, I suppose it’s possible that Thorsten Heins really believes the entire tablet market will come crashing down. It’s possible, but highly unlikely that he believes this. It’s much more likely that this comment had an accompanying context which has been totally cut out of the quote.
Remember folks .. context is EVERYTHING.
We’re seeing this quote in a vacuum. As such, it’s a useless comment and we really shouldn’t waste too much time interpreting it. But, since the media has jumped all over it and since we are more about balance and intelligence, here goes:
BlackBerry has not seen success in the tablet market. They’ve acknowledged the hyper-competitive nature of that market. Instead, they have released BlackBerry 10, powered by QNX, which is capable of running distributed processors and has built-in support for DLNA.
I know that for years BlackBerry has been exploring the idea of having a pocket-sized computer that could either render output to its own screen or render output to a different (larger) with different (higher) resolution. And I think it’s quite obvious that’s where BlackBerry wishes to drive a chunk of the market.
But at the same point, there is clearly a desire for stand alone tablets. I’ve written on iMore.com about the opportunity for Apple to dominate the education market by totally replacing hardcover textbooks. Depending on the age group using these tablets (interactive education devices), the individual user is not a smartphone user! The largest screen isn’t just going to pair with a phone.
Yet BlackBerry probably has some vertical markets that it plans to go after (or many such markets) where the phone can become the primary device. If the phone can run a great email program and connect to a full Bluetooth keyboard, optical mouse (or trackpad) and HDMI monitor, then why not just dock the phone and use that for remote access to the office? Makes perfect sense. But that doesn’t mean tablets won’t sell. And I’m pretty sure this isn’t lost on Thorsten.
Bottom line - BlackBerry has a business plan in mind. It’s not Apple’s business plan. They’re going to talk up their plan, and they should. Don’t fall for out of context quotes that get twisted and distorted. They are almost always way off base.
*Update* We've heard back from BlackBerry, and here is their statement.
The comments that Thorsten made yesterday are in line with previous comments he has made about the future of mobile computing overall, and the possibilities that come with a platform like BlackBerry 10. We continue to evaluate our tablet strategy, but we are not making any shifts in that strategy in the short term. When we do have information about our PlayBook strategy, we will share it.
Apr 29, 2013
What tens of millions of Q10 sales mean for BlackBerry
If you haven’t yet watched the interview with Thorsten Heins on Bloomberg, you should definitely watch the short clip. Adam already posted a summary here and the video is embedded.
“We expect several tens of millions of units”, said a confident BlackBerry CEO on camera. That’s a huge statement to make, and from what we’ve seen of the man so far, he is a man of action. He is not one to exaggerate and make crazy promises.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I think the Q10 is monumentally important as a cash cow for BlackBerry over the next year. It seems the company is milking that cow a bit harder up front by setting the price point fairly high. In the UK we’ve seen off-contract pricing at £579, which is about $897. Obviously there is a retail markup on that price, but it’s a good sign that the ASP BlackBerry is seeing here is above the $500 level to start.
I’d originally been told they would price it for volume. I interpreted this to mean they’d be a bit more aggressive with it. But things change. It’s possible their marketing studies showed them an aggressive price would be leaving money on the table.
Heins, in his interview with Bloomberg, is clearly confident with initial demand (UK sales, preorders, etc) even with the high price point. He reminds us that the installed base is over 70 million people. And he expects to sell several tens of millions of units.
We expect several tens of millions of units BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins
Now let’s think about this, shall we? A lot of people have waited a long time for this device. Say BlackBerry moves into a one year replacement cycle for its hardware, similar to Apple. The Q10 will then be “the” QWERTY device to own for the next year, until which time as something else replaces it, and perhaps it stays on the market at a lower price point. I give it two years before it’s not selling anymore, having been totally replaced by newer models.
I’d expect the sales to be very front-end loaded. So if by “several” tens of millions, Thorsten means 30 million units (just a guess), then I’d peg 20 million of those to happen in the first 12 months. That’s 5 million per quarter. Also, last week we weren’t 100% sure if the Q10 would launch with OS 10.1, and clearly it has. This bodes even better for a quick corporate rollout.
If BlackBerry 10 sells north of 5 million per quarter (remember we now have the Z10 and the Q10 selling), I think analysts will be forced to massively raise their numbers.
And we all know what that means to the stock, don’t we?
Mar 22, 2013
CrackBerry video interview with BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins!
With the Z10 officially arriving in the USA this week, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins was on location in New York City to celebrate the launch and spread the word via the US media that BlackBerry is back.
The CrackBerry team is also in NYC right now, so we were able to drop by Thorsten's hotel room on the eve of the launch and spend twenty minutes talking about the US launch and a whole lot more.
Mar 20, 2013
Thorsten Heins to be a guest on Piers Morgan Live
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins will be appearing on Piers Morgan Live tonight on CNN. Piers Morgan is a long time BlackBerry user and supporter, so it should be an interesting interview to watch. The show airs in the US at 9PM on the East coast, but be sure to check your local listings for what time you can catch it. Alternatively, you should hopefully be able to watch the video later on the CNN website.
Mar 07, 2013
Thorsten Heins is now a Canadian citizen
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins celebrated the release of the new CrackBerry in a better way than most of us - by becoming a Canadian citizen. In a small ceremony that took place in Kitchener yesterday, Heins was one of many who were granted Canadian citizenship. He is now a dual citizen of both Germany and Canada. In addition to being able to now truly say he's Canadian, he can also take advantage of universal health care and all the Poutine he can handle (ok, anyone can have Poutine but it's more fun when you're Canadian).
If you want to send a quick congrats along you can do so in the forums. And don't forget to check out our new, totally awesome Thorsten Heins topic page for everything you need to know (and more!) about BlackBerry's CEO.
Feb 24, 2013
'We have now increased our production capacity.' - BlackBerry CEO, Thorsten Heins
Since the launch of BlackBerry 10 there has been a lot of speculation out there surrounding sales, available stock and who exactly is out there purchasing the new BlackBerry Z10. In a recent interview given to the Frankfurter General Newspaper, BlackBerry CEO, Thorsten Heins gave some further background on the matters.
While not giving out exact numbers and simply stating they will come later after some more business is done, Thorsten did once again, confirm that sales of BlackBerry 10 smartphones exceeded expectations and that production capacity has been increased to help deal with the demand coming from carriers and consumers.
Feb 05, 2013
Thorsten Heins and Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed welcome BlackBerry Z10 to Canada
The air was electric this morning in the Rogers headquarters in Toronto as Thorsten Heins and Rogers head Nadir Mohamed introduced the BlackBerry Z10 to the Canadian media and fielded a handful of questions. It's a pretty momentous occasion, as this is the first firm sign of retail availability in North America, though Rogers is far from alone; Bell and TELUS are also offering this bad boy, and I'm getting the feeling WIND and Mobilicity will have it too, though they've been awfully quiet about the whole affair.
Jan 31, 2013
Thorsten Heins talks BlackBerry 10 and what's next for mobile computing
At the BlackBerry Experience yesterday in New York after the huge BlackBerry 10 announcement, Thorsten Heins sat down with Inside BlackBerry for a quick interview. He talked a bit about his favorite features of BlackBerry 10 as well as bringing BlackBerry 10 to global markets. He also noted that next for BlackBerry is to "explore the whole domain of mobile computing". Remember, BlackBerry is marketing BlackBerry 10 as a mobile computing platform -- not just another smartphone OS. As Heins says, "that's why we built BlackBerry 10".
I'm pretty pumped for the coming months now that BlackBerry 10 has finally been announced. Plenty of amazing stuff to come for BlackBerry fans everywhere.
Jan 22, 2013
Looking back at Thorsten Heins' first year as BlackBerry CEO
Today is Thorsten Heins' first anniversary as the CEO of Research In Motion, and it only seems fitting to recap the huge changes that we've seen since he took the job. Long story short - he's made a lot of incredibly important changes inside of the company.
So with it being the middle of January in Toronto, the very epicenter of CrackBerry Nation where the temperature is minus freakin' infinity, grab a warm beverage, sit back, and enjoy our look at the last 365 days of Thorsten's leadership.
Jan 21, 2013
RIM rallies 11% in Canada in advance of Thorsten Heins’ one year anniverary as CEO
Tomorrow (Tuesday) marks the one year anniversary of Thorsten Heins as the captain in charge of righting the BlackBerry ship. When he took the job, the stock was around $16 and on its way down. RIM's positioning was weak, and there was still a very long list of work to be done on BlackBerry 10 ahead of launch.
Today, with the US markets closed, RIM rallied nearly 11% to close at $17.41 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (equivalent to US $17.53 US). That's a nice rally ahead of an important anniversary for the BlackBerry boss.
Jan 16, 2013
Thorsten Heins wins the Cantech Letter TSX Executive of the Year award
Each year, Cantech Lettter founder Nick Waddell holds an awards ceremony to recognize the top executive in the Canadian technology sector. The winner of the award is established by a voting process. Equity analysts on the voting panel each get a vote, and readers of Cantech Letter get one collective vote.
The analysts who vote on this award come from a variety of smaller dealers including Byron Capital Markets, Cormark Securities, Industrial Alliance Securities, M Partners and Cantor Fitzgerald (who's Canadian presence comes from the acquisition of Versant Partners).
This year, the winner was none other than Thorsten Heins.
Dec 24, 2012
CNBC's Joe Kernen feels the heat of the CrackBerry Nation
In other news, it looks like CNBC's Joe Kernen felt the heat of the CrackBerry Nation on Twitter over the weekend. In case you missed it, Kernan chimed in at the end of a CNBC interview with RIM CEO Thorsten Heins. He didn't tread too tactfully however as he had this to say to Heins:
"You're at RIM and you're in Waterloo and you don't even care. Because even though you're in Waterloo, that doesn't even occur to you that this isn't going to work ... with the BlackBerry 10".
Dec 21, 2012
RIM CEO: 'We are very very confident in BlackBerry 10'
Following up on yesterday's earnings report, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins sat down for an interview with CNBC. We're still moving forward to the BlackBerry 10 launch at full force, however RIM is being analyzed on all levels regarding their financials and what's next before the launch. During the interview, Heins first talked a bit about service revenue and reiterated that they're not going anywhere. (Service revenues are the fees to which carriers and companies are charged for BIS/BES use.) While RIM will be offering new services with BlackBerry 10, the current service revenues won't be going away.
"We are transitioning. We are not stopping, we are not halting, we are not disrupting. We are transitioning .. towards the next generation of BlackBerry devices and services". Heins stated that he's very satisfied with the reported results and feels that the transition to BlackBerry 10 is "prepared well and is going to be executed well".
Dec 15, 2012
Thorsten Heins nominated for Cantech Letter TSX Tech Exec of the Year award
We're getting close to the end of the year and with that comes the Cantech Letter Awards, which honor Canada’s top technology stock and top technology stock executives. This year, the award winners, and the analysts who will vote on the awards will open the Toronto Stock Exchange trading day on Friday, January 11, 2013. Among them could be RIM CEO Thorsten Heins as he's been nominated as a finalist for the TSX Tech Exec of the Year. Cantech Letter presented the nominees and looking at their write up for Thorsten, it couldn't be more spot on:
For the first ten months of Thorsten Heins tenure, he endured more doubt and scrutiny and outright ridicule than any rookie CEO should have to suffer. Regardless, Heins plodded on as the delay of RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 platform seemed to stretch to an eternity. But now, with BlackBerry 10 a little more than a month away, critics seem to be understanding that Heins is no shrinking violet. Many analysts have recently reconsidered RIM’s prospects, and decided that the worst case scenario and the most likely scenario are further apart than they first thought.
Other nominees include Michael Donovan, of Halifax's DHX Media who deals with creation and production of such childrens TV shows as Animal Mechanicals, Rastamouse, Angela Anaconda along with Yo Gabba Gabba. Next on the list is Michael Roach, whose company CGI Group deals with IT consulting, systems integration, outsourcing and is based out of Montreal, Canada.
Nov 21, 2012
More video interviews with BlackBerry CEO, Thorsten Heins!
Following the announcement that the BlackBerry 10 Launch Event will take place on January 30th, 2013, Research In Motion followed up with another media blitz, with executives and product managers getting out there to talk and show off BlackBerry 10.
My old cohort in crime Dieter Bohn did a great job sitting down with Thortsen Heins. Check out his video above for The Verge. And below you can catch Tim Stevens of Engadget talking to Thorsten as well.
I love watching Thorsten Heins give interviews. He's very comfortable, very knowledgeable and knows how to address questions in a way that RIM's former Co-CEOs just never could. He's a great face and leader for the company we all know and love so much!
Nov 20, 2012
BlackBerry CEO goes on another BlackBerry 10 media blitz, read the highlights
BlackBerry 10 is the final stretch now. After a few delays, things are on track for a solid launch in 2013. RIM has locked down a date for a global launch event at the end of January, so it's full steam ahead now as the finishing touches are put on the new OS and the BlackBerry 10 platform. RIM CEO Thorsten Heins had another round of interviews with various media outlets and let everyone know that things are moving along on pace and BlackBerry 10 will be ready to go in 2013.
Posted by Chris Umiastowski on 2 Aug 2012 3:42 pm EDT
Earlier today, Adam put up a quick post outlining what Research in Motion CEO, Thorsten Heins, said in an interview with The Telegraph. Now that I've had a chance to read through the original article and speak to RIM about it for clarification, I thought I'd post up my opinion and raise a few questions.
Let's start with a quick recap of the most important quote from the story:
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins hasn't been shying from the media lately. He's given numerous interviews with us as well as other publications, the latest of which comes from The Telegraph. Among the standard banter around BlackBerry 10 that we're all getting used to, Thorsten drops an interesting line that hovers around the licensing of the BlackBerry 10 software. Speaking on the fact that RIM will...
Posted by Kevin Michaluk on 12 Jul 2012 6:11 pm EDT
At BlackBerry HQ in Waterloo yesterday, I sat down with Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins, and the company's newly appointed CMO, Frank Boulben.
We covered a lot of topics, including the ramifications of BlackBerry 10 launching in the first quarter of 2013 vs. the previous target of Q4 2012.
The CrackBerry community, myself included, has not been very forgiving to RIM on this delay since...
Posted by Chris Umiastowski on 9 Jul 2012 5:08 pm EDT
*UPDATE* - We reached out to RIM to get clarification on the BlackBerry 10 launching in January comment and here is what we got back - "We obviously want it to launch as soon as possible and that’s the point Thorsten was making, but as we’ve stated before, the goal is Q1 calendar 2013 and that remains our goal. "
This afternoon I had a chance to read through the entire interview that our...
We're been hearing quite a bit from RIM CEO Thorsten Heins in the last week or so and it's good to see him reaching out to the media and setting some things straight. He's been making the rounds the last few days, all on the heels of the announcement that BlackBerry 10 is delayed and won't launch until early 2013.
Our good friend Al Sacco got a chance to talk one-on-one to the man in charge...
Posted by Chris Umiastowski on 8 Jul 2012 1:59 pm EDT
Earlier this week I expressed some frustrations with how RIM's executive team was communicating during its media blitz and offered some constructive criticism.
The gist of my post was that RIM's executives need to have well-rehearsed, consistent and powerful messages to communicate when doing media interviews. They should be prepped to know what is most likely to be asked, and be ready to...
Continuing their media blitz started earlier this week, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has once again taken to The Globe and Mail to clarify the current situations at Research In Motion. This time was a little different though. Rather than being asked questions from reporters, Thorsten opened himself up to what amounted to be over 200 questions from the public.
In the end, ten questions were chosen...
Posted by Chris Umiastowski on 5 Jul 2012 5:45 pm EDT
When Thorsten Heins was interviewed on the radio by CBC's Matt Galloway, one of the key questions asked of him was, "Why was BlackBerry 10 delayed". What he actually said may surprise you.
You can go listen to Thorsten's answer for yourself here. There is an embedded audio player on the left side of the article, and Thorsten's answer happens at the 5:30 mark.
I transcribed the...
Posted by Thorsten Heins on 3 Jul 2012 11:31 am EDT
[ This opinion editorial was written by RIM's CEO Thorsten Heins and originally published in the Globe and Mail. We just *had* to get it up here for CrackBerry Nation to read ASAP. ]
Don't count BlackBerry out.
In recent weeks, it's become fashionable for pundits and market watchers to alternately eulogize Research In Motion as a fallen pioneer and demonize management for not chopping up...
Posted by James Richardson on 3 Jul 2012 9:59 am EDT
This morning RIM CEO Thorsten Heins took to the airwaves of CBC Radio and it looks like he was on a mission to get his message across that things are really not as bad for Research in Motion as the media is making out.
"There's nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now" he has been quoted as saying. "I'm not talking about the company as I, kind of, took it over six months ago...
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