Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins faced off against the company's shareholders today, and while he acknowledged that the next several quarters will be "very challenging" for RIM, he stressed that BlackBerry 10 will be the start of the new era.
"The past year has been very difficult for RIM as we make this change ... to BlackBerry 10," Heins said at the company's shareholder meeting in Waterloo, Ontario.
Heins admitted that RIM's performance in the US has been "affected by the consumer appeal of iOS and Android," as well as the lack of a 4G LTE BlackBerry. BlackBerry 10, however, will "help competitiveness in those markets."
In another effort to compete with Apple and Google, the first BlackBerry 10 will also feature a touch-based keyboard. "We own the Qwerty market, [but] we are not as competitive in the full touch market," he said. "This is why we're building a full-touch device first. [We] need to address the needs of the US and Canadian markets."
Heins promised that a BlackBerry 10 device with a physical, Qwerty keyboard will be released shortly after the touch version.
The future of BlackBerry 10 was thrown into question last month when RIM announced that it would delay its launch of the OS from the fall to early 2013.
Much of Heins's prepared remarks at today's shareholder meeting mirrored what he said on the 28 June earnings call. He reiterated that the BlackBerry 10 delay was due to the "large volume of software code" that needs to be ported to the new platform.
"[It's] simply an integration challenge," Heins said.
Heins talked up RIM's successes overseas, but the company couldn't ignore its losses in the US, as well as in RIM's home turf of Canada. "I am not satisfied with the performance of the compay in the last year," he said.
The questions from shareholders, meanwhile, were not as vitriolic as one might expect given the doomsday-level coverage RIM has received in recent weeks. One shareholder did question Heins's compensation package and ability to resurrect RIM (Heins defended himself), but other inquiries ranged from the security of BlackBerry devices to the availability of PlayBook accessories.
Heins recently spoke at length about his disappointments with RIM's performance and his plans for turning the company around.
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