Michael Liedtke

SAN JOSE: Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins is promising to restore the BlackBerry phone’s stature as a trailblazing device even as many investors fret about its potential demise.

Heins took the stage Tuesday at a conference for mobile applications developers to rally support for the upcoming release of BlackBerry 10, a new operating system that Research In Motion Ltd. is touting as its salvation after years of blundering wiped out some $80 billion in shareholder wealth.

With BlackBerry 10 still four to six months away from hitting the market, Tuesday’s gathering felt more like a revival meeting than a product preview. RIM, which is based in Canada, has been laying off thousands of workers to offset mounting losses after being outmaneuvered by iPhone maker Apple Inc. and other phone makers relying on Google Inc.’s Android software.

RIM aimed its message of hope and resilience at an audience of app developers because those programmers hold one of the biggest keys to its future. The success of the iPhone has proven that a broad selection of apps that make smart phones more fun and convenient can drive sales.