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BlackBerry 10 launch, Thorsten Heins

If there’s someone who can talk with authority about the importance of innovation, it’s the CEO of BlackBerry, right?

Probably not — but that didn’t prevent BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins from giving his take on the current state of smartphone interfaces. The gist: While the iPhone was the bee’s knees of innovation years ago, the smartphone market is leaving it behind.

BlackBerry 10 Q10

Above: So innovative!

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

“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,” Heins said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review.

It’s easy to zing Heins with a cheeky retort to his comments, but maybe he’s right. Maybe the iPhone and iOS are outdated and maybe we’re all stuck in the silver age of smartphones and haven’t realized it yet. But if that’s the case, why would BlackBerry model its newest OS after that very same allegedly outdated design paradigm? And why would it even bother with something like the BlackBerry Q10, which is at this point the very definition of outdated? Heins’ comments don’t quite hold up in that context.

The answer to the “why” question is, of course, money. The iPhone still looks the way it does because that’s what smartphone buyers are into — at least until a competitor comes along and convinces them to be into something else. Right now, it doesn’t look like BlackBerry is that competitor, so it’s a bit tough to take Heins seriously.

Rightful skepticism aside, it seems as if Heins himself has learned how quickly the innovator’s dilemma can tank a successful company. “The point is that you can never stand still. It is true for us as well,” he said.

Amen to that.

Photos: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

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