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Illustration of Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins. (ANTHONY JENKINS/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Illustration of Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins. (ANTHONY JENKINS/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

THE LUNCH

Lunch with RIM CEO Thorsten Heins: Time for a bite, and little else Add to ...

Mr. Heins points to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt: Asked about his first gold medal, Mr. Bolt said he had to “thank a few people on my BBM,” referring to RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger application.

But BBM, RIM’s popular messaging platform, is unlikely to save RIM in a world of increasingly advanced applications. For that task, RIM is relying on BlackBerry 10, software that has been delayed several times.

I ask Mr. Heins repeatedly what he thinks is the best-case scenario for the company – whether BlackBerry 10 is simply meant to stabilize RIM’s global base of about 78 million users, or whether it’s intended to take on larger rivals such as Apple.

“It needs to expand market share, there’s no doubt,” Mr. Heins says. “Today, let’s be frank, I’m participating mostly in the QWERTY [keyboard] market. … I’m not really participating in any meaningful way in the [touch-screen] segment. So with BlackBerry 10, I will maintain and stay the leader in [devices with physical keyboards]. On full-touch, I’m in attack mode.”

Tough words. Tough situation.

CURRICULUM VITAE

BEGINNINGS

Born in 1957 in Gifhorn, Germany.

Earned a master’s degree in science and physics from the University of Hanover in Germany.

HOME LIFE

Lives in Waterloo, Ont., with his wife, Petra, and two children, a 23-year-old daughter, Svenja, and 22-year-old son, Soren.

CAREER

Joined RIM in 2007 as senior vice-president of the BlackBerry handheld unit.

Named chief operating officer of product and sales in July, 2011.

Appointed president and CEO of RIM in January, 2012.

Prior to RIM, Mr. Heins had a lengthy career at German conglomerate Siemens AG.

PASSIONS/HOBBIES

Cycling, woodworking, motorcycling, hiking, and playing racing simulation games.

EXTRA-CURRICULAR

Serves as a member of the board of directors of the Canadian German Chamber of Industry and Commerce Inc.

VERBATIM

On RIM’s strategic review

“It’s prudent when you run a company like this, such an important and successful company, that you look at any options that you can to satisfy shareholder interests. This company is here to create long-term shareholder value. That’s what we’re trying to do. And there are various options for how you can get there. It’s just prudent for management and the board to consider all available options.”

On rumours that RIM is being bought

“You read them daily. Actually, I found it shocking how much those rumours move the stock up and down. I think it’s still a risk in our entire financial system. This is very, very short-term oriented. And sometimes it strikes me how reactive the market is to, really, just rumours.”

On his CEO friends at the Canadian German Chamber of Industry and Commerce

“They’re all using BlackBerry. Some of their wives had iPhones, I admit.”

On BlackBerry 10

“We want to be the best tool for people to achieve their success. That doesn’t mean business. It means artists, working moms. Hundred-metre sprinters. You name it. That’s what we’ll be centring around. That’s why we had this idea of a whole new [user interface] workflow concept on BlackBerry 10, where you’re actually not ‘application aware’ anymore – you actually flow across applications and you just do what you need to do.”

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