BlackBerry CEO John Chen responds to T-Mobile's ill-advised BlackBerry switcher campaign

BlackBerry CEO John Chen responds to T-Mobile's ill-advised BlackBerry switcher campaign
By Derek Kessler on 18 Feb 2014 03:41 pm EST

T-Mobile's caught flack from BlackBerry users over the past weekend for their efforts to woo them over to the iPhone 5s. The "Great offer for BlackBerry customers" campaign went over like a lead balloon for the CrackBerry faithful on T-Mobile, resulting in enough of an uproar that even T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere found himself in the crosshairs.

Just a day after the ads went out, Legere took to Twitter to state that he heard BlackBerry users "loud and clear" and that he would "work with the team" about BlackBerry. Of course, what exactly he's going to work with the team about was up in the air (Legere's not one for treading lightly, but he's also not one for opening his mouth without a purpose).

So while T-Mobile's actual reaction to the reaction is still unclear (aside from "it's probably not a good idea to try and persuade BlackBerry users away from their coveted smartphones"), BlackBerry CEO John Chen wasn't in a mood to wait. As he stated on the corporate Inside BlackBerry blog:

"Late last week, T-Mobile emailed an offer targeting BlackBerry users on its network asking them to switch their BlackBerry devices to a competitor’s smartphone. As we were never told of their plans in advance, I can only guess that T-Mobile thought its “great offer for BlackBerry customers” would be well received. T-Mobile could not have been more wrong.

I want to thank our loyal customers for your commitment to BlackBerry. By expressing your outrage directly to T-Mobile ‎through tweets, calls and comments in the media and on blog posts, you sent a powerful message that T-Mobile could not ignore. Your partnership with our brand is appreciated by all of us at BlackBerry, and draws a sharp contrast with the behavior of our longtime business partner.

I can assure you that we are outraged too. What puzzles me more is that T-Mobile did not speak with us before or after they launched this clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion.

To the BlackBerry user community, I want to extend our deepest gratitude. Y‎our passion motivates us every day as we navigate our turnaround. And for our loyal customers on the T-Mobile network, know that we have an offer in the works designed especially for you. Watch this space for an update very soon.

Finally, to T-Mobile, I would like to remind you that our long-standing partnership was once productive and profitable for both BlackBerry and T-Mobile. I hope we can find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again. Notwithstanding the current challenge, we remain very excited about BlackBerry’s future."

It's clear that BlackBerry wasn't thrilled by T-Mobile's marketing push, or that they even had knowledge of it in advance. Not that they would have signed off on it anyway, being that they'd prefer people replace their current BlackBerry with another BlackBerry, not an iPhone.

We know you weren't thrilled by T-Mobile's move (or other previous moves at T-Mobile with respect to BlackBerry), but with Legere working to smooth things over and Chen ripping T-Mobile a new one over the outrage caused, is T-Mobile still a good home for BlackBerry users?

Derek Kessler Derek Kessler "Managing Editor of Mobile Nations" 83 (articles) 5 (forum posts)

Reader comments

BlackBerry CEO John Chen responds to T-Mobile's ill-advised BlackBerry switcher campaign


How many BlackBerry users is there on T Mobile?

I would say BlackBerry should offer with another carrier a free upgrade to switch all those users over.

That carrier would love the additional revenu and it will help BlackBerry user get better service from their carrier

Posted via CB10


I don't even live in America and I ripped Legere a new 'A' hole. How disrespectful is T-mobile. When BlackBerry becomes profitable in the near future they should develop a network for BlackBerry Users.

How about that? BB to BB is already free. How about a VoIP to external numbers?

Voice over IP to ANY phone in Blackberry 's worldwide coming with BB13, also dual boot phone with windows 8.1 virtual machine powered by snapdragon octacore 6GB RAM with 128GB storage

Z10_STL100-2 _10.2.1.2041/2042 Vodafone DE

Gonna be tricky to run x86 on ARM, hope Win RT survives until then, if you really want to see that on a phone.

iPhone for me? Scr... ahem Q that! (posted from the latter)

What matters here is that this might get some news coverage. I'd like to think that that is what Chen wants. Any media coverage of a row between BlackBerry and T-Mobile is exposure for BlackBerry as a brand that is still alive. Well done.

Posted via CB10

Well done to Mr Chen, and all of you who took the time to blast T-Mobile a new one. Stupidest piece of marketing I've seen in a very long time.

Posted via CB10

They bit the hand that fed them for many years, they'll do the same to Apple in the future....

Posted via CB10

Quality post by Chen, gives you a little more faith in a company that is lead by an eloquent leader, a man with ideas & cahunas, sticks up for his brand and rewards hard work and customer loyalty.

Posted via CB10

This was a fckin stupid marketing gag of brainless apple using marketing wannabe professionals.

In a coffee shop sitting home button pressing wannabe important marketing silly people.

I like my z30 with a whiskey.
Don't like those iDiots acting like sect members praying to apples.

Good to see blackberry finally has some fire in their belly again ! Surely, tmobile is within their rights to do what they did. Maybe the iphone is more profitable to them or whatever. That's fine. It's just good to see blackberry come out swinging !

TMOBILE Response: Updated at 3:20 p.m. PST: In a statement, a T-Mobile spokeswoman said customers could continue to buy BlackBerry devices from the carrier and that "as an additional courtesy to our BlackBerry customers, we will begin offering free expedited shipping of BlackBerry devices by Friday." Customers can also bring unlocked BlackBerry devices to T-Mobile. "We are happy to be a BlackBerry partner and apologize for any confusion," spokeswoman Anne Marshall said.]

T-m obviously has uneducated or ill willed senior executives who made the wrong decision, probably for personal gains. It looks like though TM CEO was unaware about this.

Mr. Chen's response is appropriate, clear and forceful. It would be better though, from this point on, he can work with TM CEO to better serve BlackBerry users on the network.

I think the best result would be those selfish executives get fired; T-M and BlackBerry work out a great deal for their joint customers. That would be a win-win-win situation. The only loosers are the morons who wrote, approved and sent out the email.

I think the CB folks deserve ALL the credit for this, Chen just gave you all a big "thanks" you are all doing BB's heavy lifting, you are more valuable than the employees.

This should have never happened if BB did their job!!

I have been with t-mobile for over 9 years and nothing else but BlackBerry on their network and to me it's an insult they put out ré moving over to an iPhone etc... there are reasons why I have a BlackBerry and if really I wanted an iPhone I could have left t-mobile and move to AT&T to get the iPhone as at that time t-mobile was not carrying it and even recalled them making a statement that they would not. My hat hoes to BlackBerry CEO for his response and the way he handled this matter with all dignity and diplomacy. If anything Tmobile should be ashamed of their actions. BlackBerry all the way, you serve à purpose and we still believed in you when everybody else thought that it was the end of BlackBerry empire. Thank you BlackBerry for staying true to yourself.

Posted via CB10

Now to go after Rogers again...on page 71 of the Connected magazine they show us "How to make the move to iPhone from BlackBerry". If that isn't an apple promotion I don't know what is. They don't show you how to switch the other way or how to swift from android to BlackBerry. So tired of the carrier bullshit. Can't believe I have to pay these people to use my BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

Is t-mobile a good home for BlackBerry users? No! Neither is any other carrier. Its about BB10. BB10 adoption is the US is almost zero. No carrier wants any part of it. They want what is left of BlackBerry, which is legacy, to switch to another brand. They have no interest in investing the money to carry or support what they consider a dead product.

So what is a good home for bb10?BlackBerry and direct channels. On the enterprise they bundle the handsets in special enterprise offers. On the retail side they need to sell blackberries like regular PCs and tablets. They need to be unlocked and not tied to any carrier. The carrier should just be a provider of services that is all. Will this new model improve sales? Well not in the traditional sense. But the new Blackberry is not about handset sales. Its about a more complete solution where the handset is part of an add in offering. BlackBerry just needs to be niche, a premium brand and should not be sold to the mass market. They are going software and enterprise services. Forget the carrier, any carrier. If blackberry becomes a premium brand, premium users will pay for it and those types of users do not like to be locked in. I hate, absolutely hate carrier lock in. I will only buy an unlocked phone where outside of the developed countries, it is the norm. I travel around with my z30 and switch sim cards depending on my location and context.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry needs their own store front. They need to have real supporters as their sales rep...I am tired of going to the mall and having sales rep from Telus, Best Buy, Rogers and Bell telling me bad things about BlackBerry. It is said when I test their knowledge about BlackBerry products they do not know anything.

Posted via CB10

Finally someone with a back bone! So glad BlackBerry didn't shrug it off! I was on twitter in Canada expressing my disgust for t-mobile. Good work!

Posted using the best phone ever, the Z30!

Finally someone with a back bone! So glad BlackBerry didn't shrug it off! I was on twitter in Canada expressing my disgust for t-mobile. Good work!

Posted using the best phone ever, the Z30!

How about talking to AT&T about the upgrades. Take control of BlackBerry destiny.

Posted via CB10

It's great! I love how he acknowledges us Royal BlackBerry users & happy for you TMO customers getting special deal soon. You deserve it.

Posted via CB10

I'm not clear on how exactly Chen "ripped Blackberry a new one".

Tombstone - Combat Vets Motorcycle Assn - WWW.CVMAFLORIDA.ORG

John Chen again plus one. This again proves that Chen has class and finesse when running a company. I applaud you for your public message as it shows the BlackBerry community that top level management appreciates our continued loyalty to the brand and the products it produces. We are a class of hyper connected users that demand email and productivity first. Not stupid apps for sending nudes or idiotic acts. We get "sh!t" done either within our personal lives or for our respective organizations. We are the people that keep moving, keep productive and keep on running this world. We are BlackBerry users and we are not afraid to voice our opinions! It is devices that make us responsive to the second from a red light to instant decision making on BBM.

This is what we do with no requirement of appreciation, but NEVER EVER test our loyalty! That is crossing the line John Legere, that is unacceptable.

Posted via CB10 on my Z10

Show these sons of guns what BlackBerry is about!!! At&t needs the same treatment, so they can bring the OS up to date and on time.


John Chen epitomizes the term "class". As outraged as he probably was and still is, he was eloquent in his response when he could have bashed and belittled T-mobile. Yeah, I know, he is the CEO of BlackBerry, and that is not something that a CEO of any large company should do, but Mr. Chen definitely took the high road on this and that gets results. What T-mobile did was underhanded and sneaky, and if the CEO of T-mobile USA John Legere knew about it in advance, then does he really deserve to be a CEO of a large company? Class versus sneaky and underhanded.

That's a nice response, but I'll save my excitement until I see more responses like this to negative press. Remember, Thorsten also responded once to some negative press and "the fans went wild," but that was the end of it. The defense of the company did not continue. One thing Chen failed to do here was at least suggest to the legacy BB customers to upgrade to BB10 instead of an iPhone, even if they have to change carriers.

Let's just see how long Chen keeps this up. Who's going to want to partner with or invest in a company whose leader let's the press and other companies continuously take cheap shots at it, but the leader almost never defends it? This was a good start, but let's just see...

What really would have been nice is if Chen would've given a retort BEFORE the BlackBerry fans did. Had the fans not come out in huge form, Chen probably would've said nothing at all. But at least it looks like he has an eye on customers. So that's a plus.


...join the resistance

Glad to see this response from Chen, and glad to see that T-Mobile is at least paying lip-service about trying to make things right. What would really convince me of T-Mobile's sincerity is if they would offer the Z30, so I can finally be free of Sprint.

This isn't only a T-Mobile thing. I went into every carrier store and all of them were trying to away me away from Blackberry. I decided to support Blackberry directly and bought my Z10 from I absolutely love my Z10, and it will take time for iPhone owners to realize where the better deal is. So far American BlackBerry devices are more North American than the iPhone, and I hope it stays that way. I understand that the Indonesian market needs a more affordable option, but Americans (Canada/America) want to support North American goods.

Posted via CB10

It will take a while as long as John chen continues his path and does'nt forget the faithfull he will be good

I hope all this child's play can be resolved soon, I really would like me next phone, on Tmoble, to be the "Passport". I'm only using this LG G3 because they don't have a blackberry option and, to me, it's the best phone they have until they begin to carry the BB Passport or, second best, the G Flex 2.

My last BB was the Bold and if it weren't for the unfortunate incident of my bath girl pushing it into a tub of water (I should not have had it placed on the edge of the tub) I would still be using it.

I enjoy the BB keyboard and I've been missing it. Also, all these other phones feel like toys to me. BB creates a very capable tool to get things done as like being on a computer.

I can't wait to get my hands on the Blackberry Passport!