BlackBerry CEO Talks Roadmap Plans, Throws iPhone Under the Bus

How do you call someone a Neanderthal without offending them? We're not sure if there's a tactful way of doing that, but if there is, BlackBerry chief Thorstein Heins would be the one to figure it out. Just look at what he had to say about Apple and it's iOS/iPhone ecosystem.

"Apple did a fantastic job in bringing touch devices to market. They did a fantastic job with the user interface, they are a design icon," Heins told The Australian Financial Review in an interview. "There is a reason why they were so successful, and we actually have to admit this and respect that."

Z10 Verizon

Nothing but praise, right? Not exactly. The keyword in there is "was," as in, past tense. If you read between the lines, Heins is saying Apple's time at the forefront of smartphone evolution has come and gone, and it's time to step aside for more sophisticated devices. Lest you think we're reading too much into his comments, there's more.

"History repeats itself again I guess. The rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don't innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly," Heins added, speaking from experience. "The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for this invention was all about is now five years old."

That's an eternity in technology years, and according to Heins, new BlackBerry devices like the Z10 are better at multitasking than the iPhone. Where iOS still has an advantage is in the sheer number of apps, but Heins says he expects to have 100,000 native apps ready for its Z10 handset when it launches to U.S. customers later this week.

BlackBerry is basically betting the farm on its BlackBerry 10 (BB10) software, and there's been some early support for the platform, including an order of 1 million Z10 devices from an "established partner." That's the biggest single order BlackBerry has ever received.

BlackBerry PlayBook

Looking beyond the Z10, Heins admitted BlackBerry is exploring the idea of licensing its platform to other device makers, but that the focus right now is on global phone launches. He also downplayed any interest in jumping back onto the tablet bandwagon after its PlayBook device got beat up by the competition, leaving the company bumped and bruised.

"I wouldn't want to do it the same way again, and if I do something around tablets, I want it to be really substantial and meaningful, and quite frankly it would need to be profitable as well," Heins said. "I think the profit pool is very, very thin."