BlackBerry CEO hints at new mobile direction

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BlackBerry CEO hints at new mobile direction

Prepares for incoming 'revolution'.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has indicated plans for a new company direction aimed at 'converged mobile computing'.

The executive touched down in Sydney yesterday to spruik the company's new BlackBerry 10 operating system and accompanying Z10 touchscreen smartphone.

When asked how the company could compete with just a smartphone against the likes of Microsoft and Apple offering a cross-device platform, Heins said he was not concerned, hinting a mobile revolution was on its way.

He said the current multi-device approach was ‘static thinking’.

“When you say, 'I'm available across all various platforms', whether it's desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, what I predict we will see happening is that you will always have special purpose machines … but in general we're talking about the 1.5 billion mobile workers in 2015, they don't want to carry a laptop, a tablet, a phone, they want to have easy access to computing power,” he said.

"And then the question is, 'How do I present what my computing power is doing for me in an visual way and audio way to the user?'

“Time will tell. I'm not saying I'm right, but what we're betting on at the moment is to say there's convergence coming. And the convergence is to the most common denominator which is this thing [BlackBerry Z10] — it has huge processing power these days, [so] why would I carry various platforms with various processing powers with me, if I can do everything off this one mobile computing platform?”

Speaking to iTnews at the BlackBerry 10 showcase in Sydney, Heins said he himself had ditched his laptop and used just a smartphone and tablet, only occasionally going to a desktop machine.

He anticipated the current mobile computing paradigm would change “very dramatically” for enterprise users and consumers.

He declined to provide detail around a product pipeline, but said BlackBerry would aggressively compete in the revolution of the mobile computing domain, which he predicted would occur over the next five years.

“We will have to provide our own strong value proposition. The issue is what's your platform, what's the capability of the platform," he said. "That's why we took the job of building a whole new platform that's not a down-specced PC OS, or an open-based OS.

"As good as they are, they are not supported from their architecture for what we want to do in secure computing.”

Smartphones officially hit Oz

BlackBerry will launch its flagship Z10 smartphone first, through Optus next Monday and Telstra the following day. Optus' plans range from $30 per month to $130 per month. Telstra is yet to announce its pricing.

The device will also retail outright through Harvey Norman for $733, as well as JB Hi-Fi and Fone Zone.

The company, formerly known as RIM, changed its name to BlackBerry in late January. It spent three years working on the BlackBerry 10 operating system, initially planning a launch date for late 2011 but pushed the date back twice as it refined the OS.

BlackBerry will also launch a QWERTY Q10 smartphone in April. Both handsets will run on local 4G networks.

Pricing is yet to be announced but BlackBerry A/NZ managing director Matthew Ball said in January both devices would sell for the same price.

The company has recently struggled with the boom of smartphones resulting in consumers dictating what mobile devices were used in the workplace.

It is looking to combat the popularity of Apple and Samsung smartphones in the office by touting its platform's ability to separate work and personal life in one device, via its Balance feature, and additionally lure in new consumer customers with its touchscreen design.

BlackBerry is the number three smartphone maker in Australia. It is forecasting shipments of 6 million units following launch and is aiming for a sales split of 45 percent consumers and 55 percent businesses.

Currently two-thirds of BlackBerry’s Australian base are enterprise customers.

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