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BlackBerry CEO is ready for a smartphone fight

BlackBerry CEO is ready for a smartphone fight

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is unapologetic — OK, feisty — on the eve of the BlackBerry Z10 launch.

He calls the iPhone "passe." Apple, he contends, has lost its innovative edge. Android? "It is part of a fiercely competitive market," he says.

And, yet, he is remarkably candid about BlackBerry's perceived second-class status in the pecking order of smartphones. "We have the same issue as Apple," he says. "We need to earn our laurels back. We have a long way to go."


In a phone interview with USA TODAY on the eve of the Z10 launch in New York on Friday, Heins deemed the roll-out a "major milestone" for the company. "We did not build a new product; we built a new platform," he says.

To be sure, BlackBerry has its work cut out. The Canadian company faces the onerous task of reversing its flagging fortunes in an overcrowded smartphone market. It is pinning its hopes on its next-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system, which has garnered generally positive reviews and helped bump up its stock.

At the same time, BlackBerry 10 has about 100,000 apps, compared with about 700,000 each for Android and iOS. "They are clearly living in an echo chamber," says Larry Levy, CEO of Appinions, which analyzes marketing data for Fortune 500 companies. "They are out of the influence circle, behind Apple, Google and Microsoft."

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