Thorsten Heins, the CEO of BlackBerry, has some carefully chosen but still harsh words about competitor Apple.

Speaking to an Australian business magazine, Heins said Apple was risking being left behind in the smartphone business because its flagship iPhone hadn’t been significantly redesigned in more than five years.

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,” Heins told the Australian Financial Review. “There is a reason why they were so successful, and we actually have to admit this and respect that.”

But “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 would know a thing or two about “being replaced pretty quickly.” Faced with long delays developing its next-generation BlackBerry 10 platform, the company saw its global market share shrink to around 3 per cent last year, from a high of around 20 per cent in 2008.

With the release of the BlackBerry Z10 in January, analysts have brightened their outlook for the Waterloo, Ont.-based company, and BlackBerry shares have seen numerous price spikes on expectations of an earnings bump and rumours of a possible takeover.

But Heins isn’t the only one making noises about a lack of innovation at Apple. That was the sentiment echoed by former Apple CEO John Scully in a recent interview, when he described Apple as going through an “innovation lull.”

With earnings numbers no longer exceeding expectations, Apple recently saw its stock price hit the lowest level in a year.

But many tech bloggers argue it’s rich for the CEO of BlackBerry to be warning Apple about the dangers of not innovating.

The 9to5mac blog points out that BlackBerry’s $7.7-billion market valuation is lower than a single quarter of Apple earnings.

The BlackBerry Z10 has been out in Canada since February, and preliminary reports suggest it is selling well. Cellphone retailer WirelessWave reported the BlackBerry Z10 was the fastest-selling smartphone in its stores since the Feb. 5 launch. However, that is likely due to an initial rush of BlackBerry fans buying up the new phones.

The BlackBerry Z10 launches in the U.S. on Friday, March 22. Some wireless companies are already taking preorders.

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