Just days after Apple went on the offensive against Samsung’s new Galaxy S4, making anti-Android comments and adding a new “why you’ll love iPhone” page to its website, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has decided its an appropriate time to criticize Apple and the iPhone.
Heins, while respecting Apple for successfully bringing touch devices to market, claims that the iPhone user interface is now outdated. The chief executive adds that iOS is now over five years old, and is beginning to be surpassed by competing mobile platforms.
“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. There is a reason why they were so successful, and we actually have to admit this and respect that,” Mr. Heins said.
“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. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about is now five years old.”
The BlackBerry chief even had the tenacity to say that, if you fail to keep up with innovation within the industry, you can be replaced very quickly. Wait a second, Mr. Heins. That’s exactly what happened to BlackBerry in the past half-decade. Moving on.
In all fairness, Heins does have at least somewhat of a point. iOS is not nearly as exciting as it once was, mainly because Apple has only added iterative new software features over the past few years. Siri was perhaps the last breakthrough feature for iPhone.
With the departure of former iOS chief Scott Forstall, however, many positive things could be in store for the iPhone platform. Apple industrial designer Jonathan Ive now has a much greater presence over the iPhone design, including software, and that will hopefully translate into good news for iOS users.
While the iPhone continues to be the top-selling smartphone, at least in the United States, the handset does indeed have some tougher competition these days. As mentioned, Samsung has its new Galaxy S4 smartphone. BlackBerry is attempting to become relevant again in the mobile space with its new Z10 and Q10 devices.
There is also emerging competition from other Android handset makers in HTC and LG, as both attempt to regain market share that they have lost to Apple and Samsung over the years. Windows Phone, too, isn’t going down without a fight.
One major advantage that Apple still possesses over its competitors is the strong ability to attract developers to its ecosystem. There are over 750,000 apps on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and iOS is the de facto platform of choice for most developers.
At the launch of phones running on BB10 in January, many observers praised the technical prowess of the phones but suggested that problems, such as a relatively small amount of apps available, would limit its popularity with consumers. It had 70,000 native apps available at launch, which was well above the number offered by Microsoft at the earlier launch of its Windows Phone OS, but well below the number available in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Android app store.
BlackBerry, Windows Phone and, to a lesser extent, Android, don’t have quite the same luxury. Developers usually consider those trio of platforms as secondary venues to cater their apps or products toward, due to the mixture of a small user base, less revenues and increased fragmentation.
Apple can’t sit at the top of the pack and gloat about its industry-leading iPhone forever. If it does not innovate, it truly will be replaced. We don’t need Heins to know that. But I trust that the Cupertino-based corporation has a dedicated roadmap in place that will ensure its success within the market in the years ahead.