Says BlackBerry CEO, John Chen - "I know I have to make money"

By Bla1ze on 30 Mar 2014 11:56 pm EDT

With the BlackBerry Q4 financial results now known, there's been plenty of talk about the strategies BlackBerry CEO John Chen has been putting in place. Everything from the release of the 'Classic' device to the new production run of the BlackBerry 7 Bold series to the level of new BBM users has been under the microscope and in an effort to get the message out there, John Chen sat down with CBC for a one-on-one Q&A session. There's not a whole lot new said in the interview but it's still a great look at how Chen plans to turn the company around. You can check it out below.

Reader comments

Says BlackBerry CEO, John Chen - "I know I have to make money"


I wish I could be that me, I'm able to get these things to span the other way. Somehow 15 minutes takes like three hours.

As naive as it might sound, how about giving the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they saw the interview when it originally aired on TV.
Then gain, maybe not lol.

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You ever think that maybe that interview has been floating around since last Friday and maaaaaybe he has already seen it?

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Saw it LIVE...what is the deal with people being so worried about the integrity of the 1st comment.

I for one DO NOT CARE!!!

I read the first comment just like any other comment and base its relevance/importance/amusement accordingly...the first comment doesn't need to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Peugeot 505 STI» Peugeot 405 Mi16» Honda S2000»...Chevrolet Corvette C7

Nah. Crackberry just posted thus several days after the rest of us watched it. They are slow at monitoring their main news source (their forums) ;)

So you are saying that a bunch of guys who work for free just to entertain you, are slow to the draw then? I doubt this is only job.

I doubt they are working for free. If they are, I am going to sick the Ontario government after them.

I saw this interview on CBC a day before it was posted, and would have said the same thing within 3 minutes as well

Ha Ha! Your right! I look back to when Heins was a new CEO, the sicophants on CB were commenting as if he were the second comming.

I am so much more comfortable with John Chen than I ever was with Thorsten Heins, and I bet many others here feel the same way.

No doubt Chen is better than Thor!

But I doubt Steve Jobs could do anything with BlackBerry at this point. The market is saturated with great products (phones & IM) and BlackBerry reputation is the opposite of what they need. And 3 billion in the bank is nothing in the Game they are playing.

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$3 Billion is not nothing for a company their size. It can keep them afloat for a few years during the turn around time.

Months at their current rate of spending vs revenues.

And to "launch" a turn around they are going to have to spend much more than they are now on marketing - what ever their primary product ends up being. BlackBerry Devices, BES Services, BBM Social Network.... Being careful they might could spend half a billion.

Even a GREAT product has to be marketed.

Actually, a product visionary like Jobs is sorely needed at BlackBerry.

While I like a lot about what Chen is doing, he is no product guy, that much is clear.

So he goes to people at large defense clients who are used to dusty 5-year-old Blackberries who tell them BRING BACK THE BELT, and Chen brings back the belt.

Chen even had to hire a VP who knows the phone industry because Chen admits he doesn't know the phone industry.

That's the one thing that disturbs me. I'm not seeing technology vision here.

What I am seeing is grown-up execution, which is great. The company is still horrible at communicating with/supporting customers, but for now I will chalk that up to all the staff shrinkage. I sure hope it changes. Chen is clearly aware that communications was a big weakness of the company when he came on board, I just hope he will improve things beyond doing media interviews.

I think he gets a pass from Wall St. because he is an American. Heins was fine. Chen is getting a lot of credit for doing what Heins started.

"Chen is getting a lot of credit for doing what Heins started."

No. Chen is trying to save BlackBerry from Heins' near-fatal blunders, which, by the numbers, were: 1) over-pricing the BB10 devices, 2) *negatively* marketing them, 3) over-buying inventory by a factor of 10 leading to the $1.4 billion write-off, 4) killing the enterprise business by providing no support for legacy devices with the new BES, 5) scaring away the remaining customers by putting the company up for sale. If Mike and Jim were asleep at the wheel, Heins actively steered the ship into the iceberg.

You trust chen because you don't have any other choice, the same was with Thorsten Heins, you just go blindly with what you have and hope that it will not crash and burn, but eventually it will, and this time I don't think it'll turn out as "well" as last time.

Wonderful interview, handles every question like a boss! This is definitely the man for the job either way it ends up. This is what was needed 4 years ago. Chen speaks to everyone, lays out the plan and doesn't take bs. Time to make some $ now...Let's go BlackBerry!

Via The BlackBerry Z10 Experience.

Because the consumer market is not where BlackBerry needs to be a the moment and Chen knows and understand that.

Service Revenue i.e. enterprise based services, makes up more then 50% of BlackBerry's revenue but you'd rather he focus on the consumer market?! Get real buddy, Chen like a good CEO should be, is taking fiscal responsible for the company's decline and trying to stimulate BlackBerry in sectors it still has a strong presents in.

Let me wipe you back into reality. BlackBerry started out within enterprise and consumer adoption of BlackBerry handsets only came about because people were using them exclusively within the workplace or Small Medium Business (SMB) markets. Chen like a lot of other smart business folks can see that working within enterprise and being successful within that space, my once again bring profitability back to the company (short-term goal) and if very successful adoption to the consumer market (long-term goal).

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I think you misinterpreted my comment. I fully agree with Chen's decision to go enterprise. But with CrackBerry readers familiar refrains of no consumer advertising, poor retail experiences and no new high end touchscreen, Chen's philosophy doesn't jive with those of this community.

Yet the man is widely considered a messiah.

I don't believe I've misinterpreted your comment at all. You said he has little regard for the BlackBerry consumer market.

Where I think the fault in your statement lies is that you presume to know what Mr. Chen is thinking. As mentioned in my previous comment, I see him making every effort to being fiscally responsible as a CEO. He simply knows what we all should know, that you need to build your business around your strengths in order to progress upon your weaknesses. Sorry to say but the consumer market within North America has spoken, they're not interested in BB10 no matter how much we think it's awesome.

And I don't feel like he's sighting the consumer markets at all. Quite the opposite in fact, IMO he's been nothing but openly subjective to the strategic planning BlackBerry needs to set forth and at this time it's not within the consumer market in order to get the company back to a profitable state.

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The man represents realism, BlackBerry has been silently calling out for this type of leadership for the longest. Glad it's that time now, can't wait to see what happens!

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And your point is? Rising stock prices, everyone benefits. If Chen can pull this off and turn this thing around, he has more than earned his money.

Surprised to hear no one commented on the previous win of the z30 in a contest with all the other smartphones, good win for blackberry!!!

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Well using that theory the z30 would be outselling the iPhone then!!!!!!

Admit it, it performs better than the other platforms just no one knows it.

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Would be interesting to see what you would have said if any other phone other than BBRY had won.

Your point is moot, we don't have to imagine what he would have said because no other phone won but the BlackBerry!

That's like saying I wonder what people would have said if HD disks win over Blu-ray?! No one cares because Blu-ray won and has become the preference.

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@kevinnugent: KM's days of being a BlackBerry partisan are over.

Strange you haven't noticed that yet.

Don't miss the belt at all. But whatever. Cutting and pasting is easy on any BlackBerry 10 device.

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Not only cut and paste I want a dedicated call talk and end button and close app button. Close all button ;lots of possibilities.

Delta Champion

Call and end button? Seriously that's the least of the problem. It takes one move regardless

From zee coolest flicking smartphone ever

Not sure if you're being sarcastic or not but the "Hang Up" button never closed just minimised them. The same as swiping up on BB10.

Probably referencing holding down the back button to essentially close an application

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I do like the end button for hanging up the phone. It's not "difficult" to hang up the phone on a touch screen device, obviously, but there's something very intuitive about ending a call with a button that I'll be glad to have back.

Ending a call with on a touch screen is not hard at all, but making sure when you put back your phone, you don't accidentally dial anyone is HARD.. hehe..

I agree also. I don't miss it. But, if they are hearing that someone does, then great.

I just don't want to lose screen size for the belt. And, I don't want a device that is too big overall.

But, I will withhold judgment overall.

We know that Mr. Chen needs to make money... but it doesn't mean that we have to use the same picture of him every time...

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Totally agree where all the photogs at? I keep seeing the same pics rehashed.

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It was my first time hearing him speak. He's blunt and straightforward; I like his style.

I would have to agree that copy and pasting has been less efficient compared to BBOS7, but I'm interested to see how the BB10 interface will look and interact with the belt.

I love the belt strategy, I hate the 9900 renewal.

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Here's one for ya, the video wouldn't play on my Windows 8 Machine or my Android tablet, but it plays perfectly on my PlayBook and Q10 lol.
Really good interview overall.

Posted with my CB-Q10 using the power of " Q "

The video won't play on my PC or my Z10 (running OS10.2.1) through the CB app or through the browser . The CBC site says my Z10 needs a newer media player. Maybe it won't play here in the US? Hmmm...

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Wonder when they have to begin making payments on the 1.25 Billion, and what those monthly payments are? That's an expense they cannot cut, along with the Chen Jet!

My understanding is that once the stock gets to $10, the debt is turned into stock and there is no more debt. Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later.

He had a TORCH! To know it is to love it... I wonder what he thinks of the slider form factor?

He just called T-Mobile "low end". Ouch.

He raised the issue of one handed operation being a draw for enterprise customers, and that if it was only the keyboard that mattered, the Q10 would have sold better. With regard to the Belt, "If the customer likes it, it's the right thing to do."

He talks about "machine to machine" communication, but he didn't mention the wearable technology where I think QNX could really shine.

I think some of the criticism of BlackBerry over the last 2 years has to fall squarely on the BoD, so hopefully they've got their heads on straight too. Maybe Master Chen can bring some clarity there, too.

I'm happy he's visiting the media and setting the message straight! One of our biggest problems is media perception, everybody trying to come up with the worst story possible, selling their doom and gloom, but here we have the facts. BlackBerry is focused and moving forward, hopefully that message becomes what people expect from BlackBerry, and not failure, because failure is not an option.

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I don't know why anyone is buying the Bold when the Q10 is basically the same phone with way more features and processing power.

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I wonder how long, if at all, until Chen looks to "unlock value for shareholders" (as he mentioned in the interview) and attempts to sell BlackBerry... That part of the interview sounded kind of ominous to me... :-/

I felt like Thor could do it - and I think he did a lot of good things right- but he didn't surround himself with the right people. Nevertheless, he got BlackBerry through a difficult period when they had been completely written off.
Watsa has taken control. Chen is his guy. I like his track record. I think he know's what he's doing. He under promises and over delivers.
I remain optimistic.Prem and J.C. give me good reason.
Trolls: nothing to see here.


Damn that was a good interview. Chen is different than Heins because is out there with the media and the customers. Heins never did any of that. Heins was a product guy, he got BB10 built.

Chen is a level higher. He communicates.

I think I will reserve my judgement of Mr Chen.

We need to see if he has a Plan B regarding BB10 if the current strategy doesn't work.

Personally I would like to see an increase in production of the Z30 along side an advertising campaign. But not a conventional campaign, Guerilla marketing. Challenge the Z30 ,get the Z30 into as many famous people as possible.

The celebrity endorsement is still very strong in the US . You can't beat free.

I'm still waiting for a device that can rule them all and take on all comers.

BlackBerry...Get it done!!!

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I have just bought a z30 but ppl are saying its over budget phone and I think they are right somewhat, if u want to do some market u have be reasonable on selling price

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For the most lazy ones ...
WARNING : all below = approximative "Mhooooo" quotes ;-)

"not only we bring the belt back, but we also bring back the old interface, like the copy/paste thing "
Wow ... someone's reading the forums

(abt the SP) "People are beting on maybe there's a chance of his comeback ... all I ask is they give us the opportunity to execute"
=>That's clear and neat.

"people only read the tiny (bad) part of press ... we're commited to tell our story: normally I shouldn't do that, but I believe it's very important the people know we are here and we we want to fight"
=>My hero ! (away from T.H postural behavior)

"Today it's very clear that if we go back to the basics and if we focus on doing well with that base, the company will be stabilized."
=>Yes Sir.

"(Mike L : the belt back) I think he would love it" "(anyways) the customers want it, so either Mike or Jim doesn't like it ... customers like it so it's the right thing to do"
=>Listen to the market ... indeed.

BBM, M2M, QNX ... as far as we can execute, I feel very comfortable about the future of the company".
=>So do we, mister Chen !!!

"I hope to be the leader in Machine to machine"
=> That's a stong commitment, the kind that shows a bright light ahead ... (FYI expected market for "Internet of Things" in 2018 is 9 billion devices; roughly equal to the number of smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, wearable computers, and PCs *combined* )


It really depends how you make it! When you guys bring a phone like the Z10 and would sell it cheap people may buying it! Everything more than 500 $ people just stay away that's for sure

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IMO to do that they need to get out of the handset business and concentrate on enterprise and software and ditch the handset business for now.

But then again, are we really in opposition to a good sale? I doubt it'll just be random, and his quote of 'BlackBerry is here to stay' tells me that a sale would still be in the best interest of the shareholders, and that should be quite some time away from now anyhow

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Ouch on the "low end carriers" (T-Mobile) comment.... haha it was a good one. it was a good comeback to t-mobile CEO'd MySpace reference.. bur I do hope these guys patch it up soon. In on t-mobile, and I will be screwed if the don't so business with each other anymore.

Posted via CB10 app with my trusty Z10

Ever see that show "Money Talks" on CNBC about the Las Vegas sports handicapper? He invites you to town and tells you to bet $10K on a single game. If you win, you give him 40%. If you lose then he tells you to bet $20K on the next game. If you lose that one then he tells you to bet $60K on the next one. The vast majority of the time he's going to eventually win you one and get paid. If you lose, he will lose you as a customer and get another one.

That's what Chen is doing. He's saying "I have to make money" because he's going to take the credit if Blackberry turns around. If he loses, however, he will just go back to California and wait for another job (after getting paid).

Exactly! They were bowing at the alter of Heidi.

Even Kevin. Maybe it was all the press from the haircut thing.

And Umi was one of the "analyst" who years ago said the iPhone posed no threat at all to RIM.

When anyone who saw the launch in NYC knew that
he was NOT Chief Executive material.

Worst product launch I'd ever seen. And having been on Wall Street for 14 years I saw a ton.

But maybe in Canada he was something special.

Low standards I guess.

Great interview - but what's the deal with me having to go to Crackberry on my desktop to watch the video. I couldn't run it on my Z10? Did I miss something?

There's no reason to think BlackBerry can't grow the business going forward.

Hire Sterling-Cooper can come up with the right tag line to help the world go over its' "BlackBerry isn't cool anymore" phobia.

Strap a BB10 hand-set to John Hamm in some retro-themed ad campaign and see where it goes.

Sent from my BlackBerry Z30

Chen mentions machine-to-machine like everyone else does.

It sounds nice for a moment, but there isn't a compelling use case presented to the audience.

I think a lot of companies are talking about machine-to-machine. The first company to present it to the consumer in a relevant way is going to have the head start.

Blackberry has to sell phones in order to make money and from the looks of it that's not gonna happen. Chen is turning out to be a humongous D-bag.

Or monetize BBM, sell BES CALs , QNX auto software, app / media purchases, etc...

It's not just phones...

Zzzzwiped from a Zedevice....

No they don't.

It's a well known fact that no one makes money in smartphones today except Apple and Samsung.

Right now the smartphone business is just a necessary part of a bigger software and services picture. And I'm OK with that because I know how suicidal it would be to throw hundreds of millions or billions into that market for nothing. And I'm telling you right now, it would likely be for nothing at this point.

Whereas in Indonesia, which at this point has by far the largest percentage of Blackberry users of ANY large country - it is relatively cheap to serve and market to that country, so that really is a smart move. You could spend half a billion on trying to prop up the BlackBerry smarthphone business in the USA and get nowhere. BlackBerry simply cannot throw that kind of money into a pit right now.

Good interview haha t mobile is a nobody. I like this guy because he actually speaks out and defends the company

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He said all of this will come in October or November. That's 6 or 7 months! BlackBerry does not have that kind of time to sort it's act out. It will be too little too late yet again by then.

Posted via CB10 on Z30 STA100-2 / on O2 UK - Activated on BES10.2.1

The more I think about it, after watching Chen's interview on CBC here in Canada, he really doesn't convey much confidence. Far off promises won't do it for BB. They need to be making innovation a priority that at a very minimum matches other competitors. Focusing on retro style Blackberry's, in my view, is also a questionable move. The physical keyboard lover is a dying breed. They should also be focusing heavily on App availability, even if that just means direct access to Google and their services. You are never going to gain much market share if you cannot provide access to hot apps.

I agree, felt the same way after watching it on the CBC. I was about to watch again as most people are posting it was inspiring in some way. I felt more wind coming out of the sails at the end. Sorry.

It's a dying breed in the mainstream market, but it's a huge niche market, because no one else is doing them, because, well... it's a dying breed.

Kind of a circular argument, but the niche is big enough for BB.

Zzzzwiped from a Zedevice....

Chen is a BS artist and you guys don't seem to be able to see how he is misleading you and relieving himself of pressure in the consumer market.
Does BlackBerry want to get out of the lucrative consumer market? Of course not. Why would they?
What they are doing is de-emphasizing this part of their business to take the heat off of them for their lack of success.
They will continue to produce consumer (sorry, prosumer) based phones in smaller volumes in hopes that they eventually can claw their way back into that segment in some volume.
In the mean time, guys like BGR will stop joking about their lack of current success. This approach was started by Thorsten Heings.

Only one problem: the consumer smartphone market is NOT lucrative.

Out of dozens or even hundreds of vendors, there are literally only TWO companies making significant money on selling smartphone hardware today, and the likelihood of BlackBerry getting into that club any time soon is slim to none.

Having a smartphone product for BlackBerry at this point is an adjunct to a diversified business where you make MOST of your money on services and software licenses.

I'd love for them to be competitive at the highest levels in the smartphone market but I know EXACTLY why Chen's enthusiasm for that market - especially in the near term while he tries to create a solid ongoing revenue/profit base - is lukewarm.

As a T-MO USA subscriber, I get the feeling that CONSUMERS using BB devices will begin experiencing less support from BB. He has access to hard numbers so maybe BB users on T-MO USA are not worth the trouble but I will not follow BB to another, more expensive carrier.
Therefore, I think I’m going to wait for the LG 3 to be released and then experiment//test drive the S5, and M8 before making a decision. I really enjoy using BB 10 on the Z10. I originally got the Q10 for the keyboard – I’ve been a BB CONSUMER since 2004 – but didn’t like the experience with the OS. The OS – in my opinion – is optimized for touch screen use and quite frankly, I don’t want to use a physical keyboard again.
The QWERTY on the Z10 is nothing less than AMAZING and I don’t care if I don’t have a 100MP camera and 40 million apps. It’s my messaging device and it does it darn well. Chen: don’t overlook your customers on T-MO USA. In fact, I’m willing to bet that BB CONSUMERS on T-MO USA are the very "PROSUMERS" you wish to focus on albeit that we’re not on “Enterprise.”
So man up, shake hands with Legere and maintain whatever CONSUMER base you have left in the market. After all, Legere stepped up and gave us an opportunity to trade-in our devices for a $250.00 credit toward a BB 10 device and that’s what prompted me to move away from OS7. It wasn’t your marketing that prompted the jump. I Opted for a $288.00 “refurb,” so do the math. Don’t make me and others regret our decision. Hoping for the best!!

I guess I don't watch TV much which is why it jumps right out at me, but that female presenter has some really horrible cosmetic work done on her that makes her look like a talking duck...

If he disenfranchises BlackBerry Loyalists all the focus on money won't save the company. Without customers no company can exist long-term despite its bottom line balance sheet.

He needs to make money yes....

But I think BlackBerry had their comeback with BB10, they've let people know they're not dead...

Chen's next challenge, now the ship is stable again, is to come up with a phone that's a world beater...

One that says "BlackBerry is back, check this out "....

A large screen, expandable, powerful, beautiful phone...

Otherwise it'll be more of the same... another BB10 device that others aren't aware of...

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