BlackBerry CEO calls iPhone interface outdated

Days after Apple releases its "Why iPhone" ads, BlackBerry's CEO says the iPhone's user interface needs a face lift. 

Reinhold Matay/AP/File
In this May file photo, Thorsten Heins, president and CEO of Research In Motion (RIM), delivers the keynote speech during the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Fla. Heins told the Australian Financial Review that the user interface for Apple's iPhone is outdated.

As the iPhone slips further behind Android in terms of market share, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins notes that the iPhone might want to make some innovative strives if it aims to capture the hearts of smart-phone users as it once did.

Mr. Heins said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review that the iPhone is too outdated to survive as the state-of-the-art smart phone, according to the Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD blog

"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," he told AFR. "The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about, is now five years old."

If anyone knows the challenges of a highly competitive, innovation-driven market, it's Heins. After all, it was BlackBerry that was largely replaced by the iPhone six years ago. BlackBerry has only recently begun to resurge as viable competition in the mobile market.

While Heins does not make a direct comparison, he seems to warn that the iPhone could go the way of old BlackBerry phones if it does not make changes to its product.

The popularity of Android phones (particularly Samsung’s) has raised questions about the future of the iPhone in the smart phone market. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 replaced the iPhone as the world’s best selling iPhone last year. The hype surrounding the Galaxy S4, which was released last week, created speculation about whether or not the new model will be an iPhone-killer.

The Galaxy S4 has fared well in the latest reviews. Forbes described the phone as “amazing” and “innovative,” pointing to the smart phone’s ability to connect to multiple Samsung devices including TVs. CNET says the Galaxy S4 came up short, but that it still raises the bar for Samsung’s competitors.

However, Apple seems to be taking the defensive. MacWorld reports that Apple just launched its "Why iPhone" campaign.

If you expect to see a new wave of Mac versus PC showdowns except with Samsung, think again. While the promotion closely followed the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S4, the promotion only seems to give reasons of why people should choose the iPhone, not why, or even if, it is better than Samsung’s latest smart phone.

"There's iPhone. And then there's everything else," the page reads. "What makes an iPhone unlike anything else? Maybe it's that it lets you do so many things. Or that it lets you do so many things so easily. Those are two reasons iPhone owners say they love their iPhone. But there are many others as well."

Apple's home page launched the promotion on Saturday listing a number of reasons why iPhone owners say they love the product. Among them are customer satisfaction awards, the device's Retina display, the battery life, the LTE 4G capabilities, the iSight camera, and Wi-Fi. (Of course, most of those are available on other phones.)

MacRumors says the page reflects a shift in Apple's advertising approach, which has traditionally focused on the Apple experience rather than the target audience (unlike its rival Samsung): "Apple's new campaign appears to be trying to bridge that divide by somewhat focusing on how the iPhone experience has drawn so many loyal and happy customers."

But Chris Matyszczyk of CNET, who received the e-mail promotion, called the ad hasty. What the ad really says is that Apple feels threatened by Samsung.

"Apple's quick response will likely not be accompanied by any great advertising campaign," Mr. Matyszczyk writes. "That really would be an extremely public acknowledgement that Samsung is beginning to eat Apple's nerves."

In fact, he writes, the ad suggests that the iPhone 5S will likely have few major upgrades or challenges to its biggest rival, whether it’s the Galaxy S3 or Galaxy S4.

For more tech news, follow Steph on Twitter: @stephmsolis

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