RIM (RIMM) CEO Thorsten Heins’s interview with the Telegraph on Thursday made headlines for his admission that the company can’t keep up with Apple (AAPL) and Samsung (005930) without outside help. But there’s another interesting nugget buried within the interview that didn’t get quite as much attention: Heins says that RIM took a long, hard look at migrating to Android before deciding to plow forward with BlackBerry 10.
“We took the conscious decision not to go Android,” Heins told the Telegraph. “If you look at other suppliers’ ability to differentiate, there’s very little wiggle room. We looked at it seriously — but if you understand what the promise of BlackBerry is to its user base it’s all about getting stuff done. Games, media, we have to be good at it but we have to support those guys who are ahead of the game. Very little time to consume and enjoy content — if you stay true to that purpose you have to build on that basis. And if we want to serve that segment we can’t do it on a me-too approach.”
Given the current woes of Android vendors such as HTC (2498) and Google’s (GOOG) Motorola, the company’s decision not to go with Android does make a good deal of sense. But now that RIM has decided to go its own way, the company will still need something to differentiate itself from the iPhone and the flood of Android devices released every year.
For Heins, RIM’s ace in the hole is BlackBerry Messenger, which he says delivers mobile messaging capabilities that are unique in the smartphone market.
“[BBM is] what attracts people to BlackBerry,” he said. “This is our BlackBerry experience we can deliver — there’s no other system out there where you can read, write, check if you’ve read my message. We want to make it as differentiated as possible. Going cross platform and opening up would be losing that advantage. I think there’s a huge difference between somebody who just provides the phone and the hardware and someone who provides services.”