Much has been made in the mainstream media about RIM CEO Thorsten Heins' "third place" comments during a press briefing after the BlackBerry Jam Americas 2012 keynote. Titles like "RIM CEO: We want to be in third place,"
or my personal favorite "RIM's CEO says BlackBerry 10 will never beat Android or iOS"
show how comically awful and one sided some of the tech media still remains.
First, let's examine what he actually said to the press. The actual quote that everyone is referring to is, “We have a clear shot at being the number three platform on the market.” All of us that were there and heard this quote were definitely a little surprised at first. After the Q&A session began, Heins would explain that RIM is not settling for third though.
One of the first questions out of the gate was how he could be happy having his company only in third place. Heins quickly explained that third place is "only the first step" and to "make no mistake about it, I'm in this to win."
If any of RIM's top execs come out and say that BlackBerry 10 will make RIM #1 over night, they would a.) be called delusional for not recognizing the true power of their competition and b.) be mocked for unrealistic expectations. It would recall the illusions of grandeur that former CEO Jim Balsillie had with respects to this same exact OS. Did everyone forget how much RIM was made fun of when there were talks of BBX (as BB10 was known back then) "leap-frogging the competition"?
When the PlayBook first launched, hardware-wise it was ahead of the game. 7 inch tablets are just now starting to become the trend even though most of us have had one for a while. At that time, RIM believed it was okay to launch a product with amazing hardware and a half-baked OS because it was a BlackBerry, who wouldn't want to buy one?
Since Heins took over as CEO, RIM has had a huge shift in mentality. Gone is that cockiness that used to plague and stifle innovation. The cockiness that previous execs believed made current BlackBerry devices so much better than others, that there was no need to change anything. Over-confidence that made BlackBerry 10 not become a need until RIM's stock had plummeted and the BlackBerry brand in North America had become tarnished.
This new found humility doesn't mean that you can't have a little confidence or "swagger" when it comes a new product though. This is specially true if it's one that you really believe in, like BlackBerry 10 is for RIM. They honestly believe, and so do we based on what we've seen, that what BlackBerry 10 is bringing to the market will start the mobile computing revolution.
RIM execs were adamant about the fact that BlackBerry 10 on smartphones is just the beginning though. They're excited but also know a lot of work remains to be done and that hunger at all levels is what'll make sure BlackBerry 10 is ready at launch.