As the man in charge of struggling Research in Motion, Thorsten Heins obviously can't afford to be negative, but despite an ominous start to his reign you do get the impression he has a realistic picture of just what state the company is truly in.
So it's interesting to hear his thoughts on RIM's future as we get into the second half of surely the most difficult year in the company's history, and he certainly had plenty to say in a new interview published by The Telegraph.
There was a lot of predictably defiant talk, backed up (also predictably) by some hand-picked stats showing things aren't as black in BlackBerry land as a lot of people are making out.
Clearly Heins also knows that the media increasingly see RIM and Nokia as being largely in the same gloomy state: he points out that RIM's platform isn't “burning”, a reference to Stephen Elop's famous February 2011 memo on Symbian, and questions why Windows Phone gets so much “credit” when sales remain so poor.
The obvious “why not go Android” question came up, to which Heins responded that RIM did seriously consider whether to abandon BlackBerry OS and simply adopt Android (and let's not forget the whole PlayBook running Android apps thing), but concluded (just as Nokia did) that it didn't want a me-too future without the ability to stand out from the crowd.
In fact, with BBM at the heart of that appeal – which Heins clearly believes is still RIM's ace in the hole – he actually believes things will go the other way. Considering the company's shrinking resources, Heins argues that producing the “hero” BlackBerry 10 devices and letting other companies bring the platform to the entry level may be the way forward.
“We don’t have the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year,” he says. “We have to differentiate and have a focused platform. To deliver BB10 we may need to look at licensing it to someone who can do this at a way better cost proposition than I can do it. There’s different options we could do that we’re currently investigating.”
That obviously requires the all-important release to be a surefire winner, and Heins insists it will be. “We don’t have the resources like a Microsoft; we have to place one bet and make it right; we don’t want to go for an intermediate step. It comes out in the first quarter and I think a lot of people are going to be surprised.
“The teams are working relentlessly day and night, at the weekends – it’s a once in a decade change that will see us through the next ten years.”
Optimism is a great thing, Thorsten – how about we meet you back here in 2022 and we'll see just how right you are?