03/18/2013 05:47 pm ET

BlackBerry CEO, Of All People, Thinks iPhone Has Gotten Stale After 5 Years Without Change

Add BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins to the growing chorus of Apple and iPhone skeptics.

In a widely-circulated interview with The Australian Financial Review, Heins implies that Apple, while deserving credit for inventing the smartphone as we know it, has not innovated enough since the iPhone's 2007 debut. The iPhone is now old and stale, Heins says.

The money quote:

“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.”

BlackBerry (formerly known as Research In Motion) just released its BlackBerry 10 operating system, which Heins naturally offers as the antidote to the iOS stagnation. BB10 is based on an innovative concept called "Flow," which means, in part, that the user never has to hit the home button to return to the start screen. You can read more about BlackBerry 10, and get a sense of how it's different from Apple's iOS, here.

Heins joins a growing list of mobile tech execs taking to the press to lash out against a competitor -- though most of the smack talk has been directed at a the latest Galaxy S phone. Phil Schiller, a VP at Apple, bashed Android in interviews with The Wall Street Journal and Reuters prior to the launch of the Samsung's Galaxy S4; after the launch of the GS4, execs at HTC told journalists that Samsung's latest was "more of the same."

Apple has been the target of executive criticism in the past, however. Last year, the acting president of HTC America criticized the iPhone's waning coolness, calling it the phone that everyone's dad uses. Most notably, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicted in 2007 -- back when iOS was designed and first launched -- that the iPhone would be a flop, and that it would never garner significant market share.

Publicly criticizing the opponent is a more regular practice than you might think, in other words. If there's anything striking about Heins' comments, it might be that one of the causes of BlackBerry's downfall was, in fact, a failure to innovative. A writer at the tech site GigaOM called out Heins for pot-calling-the-kettle-back syndrome.

If Heins was trying to drum up publicity in advance of BlackBerry 10's United States debut, however, he seems to have accomplished just that (which is more than you can say about other publicity stunts). elsewhere in the interview with the AFR, Heins mentions that he expects BlackBerry's app store to feature 100,000 apps by the time BB10 is made available in America later this week. Convenient timing for a salacious quote attacking one of the industry leaders to appear in the press, no?



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