Delayed BlackBerry 10 smartphones adding video chat, CEO says

Heins explains smartphone delays, social networking plans amid rancor at struggling RIM's annual shareholders meeting

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Heins told one shareholder that RIM still has a "lock on the enterprise market" and is holding onto users and BlackBerry Enterprise Server installations at 90% of Fortune 500 companies.

To boost enterprise interest in its technology, RIM will offer more services through its BlackBerry Fusion and Balance initiatives, Heins said.

Fusion offers IT shops management support for various smartphone OS's, including iOS and Android, while the Balance program is designed to let BlackBerry users separate personal functions on the device from corporate functions. In the latter case, corporate data alone can be wiped from a lost device.

Heins said RIM is committed to shipping a premium-quality touchscreen BlackBerry 10 smartphone in 2013. That will be followed by a device with RIM's iconic physical Qwerty keyboard. Peter Devenyi, senior vice president of enterprise software at RIM, made similar promises in an interview with Computerworld last week.

To improve its standing with consumers, Heins said RIM has "made it really easy to attract ... content and service providers" through the BlackBerry 10 programming interfaces.

Answering a question from another shareholder, Heins said that the planned layoff of amost one-third of RIM's workforce, or 5,000 employees, will not slow BlackBerry 10 development. Nor would the development effort have been helped with an investment from RIM's $2.2 billion cash on hand, he said.

"The speed of BlackBerry 10 development is not a money issue or a headcount issue," Heins said.

The problem has been integrating all the disparate blocks of software, developed by independent software development teams, into the device. There are about 75 blocks of software in BlackBerry 10, of which about two major blocks remain to be integrated, Heins said.

The newest member of the RIM board is Timothy Dattels, a senior partner at TPG Capital, and a former managing director of Goldman Sachs.

The other eight directors approved by shareholders on Tuesday are: David Kerr, a director since 2007; Claudia Kotchka, first elected last July; RIM co-founder and foirmer CEO Mike Lazaridis, a director since 1984; Roger Martin, first elected in 2007; John Richardson, a director since 2003; Barbara Stymiest, who joined the board in 2007; Prem Watsa, elected in January; John Wetmore, a director since 2007; and Heins, elected in January.

RIM has posted the backgrounds and biographies of all the directors here.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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