CrackBerry Q&A with John Chen, BlackBerry's new CEO!

Less than 24 hours after being introduced as the new Interim CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen set aside some time to talk with us at CrackBerry so we could get to know him.

He’s got a lot on his plate and a lot has been covered since yesterday’s news broke. So instead of peppering John with questions until one of us tired of the other, we kept it sweet and to the point (and he’s also a busy guy with a lot suddenly heaped onto his plate). So is John Chen the right man to help correct BlackBerry’s wandering course? Let’s find out.

John S. Chen
By Kevin Michaluk on 5 Nov 2013 06:45 pm EST

It was just six weeks ago that BlackBerry and Fairfax Financial announced a preliminary deal to take the handset maker private. As the due diligence kicked into high gear, BlackBerry’s leadership realized that privatization was not the right decision for the company. They were losing customers faster than before, and a leveraged buy out was going to take too much time. So the “for sale” sign came down.

The new deal is smaller but still a substantial change for BlackBerry. Thorsten Heins is departing as CEO, replaced by former Sybase CEO and turnaround artist John S. Chen, and Fairfax’s Prem Watsa is taking the reigns of the board as lead director along with a billion dollar investment.

John delivered to us a clear message that BlackBerry is here to stay: "BlackBerry is an iconic company. I do not want it to be sold at an artificially low price. I want to keep it in Canada. Companies go through challenging times. With the right financial strategy, business strategy, management team and with the legion of fans that BlackBerry has around the world we can turn this around and build real value for shareholders."

It’s clear from our conversation that John brings a lot of experience to the table, along with tact and a sense of humor. And, importantly, that he understands the role of the CrackBerry community and will be watching your feedback - be it praise or criticism (as we all know, the CrackBerry community hasn’t ever been the type to hold back on either).

We peppered John with our questions, though being that he’s busy preparing for his new position in Waterloo he wasn’t able to answer all of them. So here are seven of our questions with some meaty John Chen answers. The new BlackBerry chief has a proven track record over the years of taking the helm of companies that have drifted off course, so maybe with a bit of luck and fair winds at his back he can guide the S.S. BlackBerry to port.

CrackBerry Q&A with BlackBerry CEO, John Chen


Kevin: Let's start with an easy one. Are you familiar with

John: Yes! I was actually just on the site and browsed around - seeing my pictures on all your stuff! [laughter]. So yes, I’m a reader and know your background and I’ve spent time on CrackBerry. It’s a very nice looking site, by the way.


Kevin: The announcement yesterday of your appointment obviously took us by surprise. We’re wondering how long has has this move been in the making? Have you been a BlackBerry user for years, and how closely have you been following the BlackBerry story this whole time?

John: I’ve been a mobile device user for a zillion years, whenever it started. I don’t know how long that is now, but it was a long, long time ago. And I don’t know whether you read in my background, I’ve been a mobile technology guy since the very early days. When everybody was playing with dot com I was playing with mobile.

"I’ve been a BlackBerry user for a very, very long time"

Those were very early days of course. Most people found them not that interesting, but I found it extremely interesting. Those days about the only smart devices you could have was the old RIM device as you obviously know. So yes, I’ve been a BlackBerry user for a very, very long time.

I have used all kinds of devices because of the businesses I have been in. At Sybase we did a lot of software business across the BlackBerry/RIM devices, Android devices, iPhone devices, and even Linux. The only smartphone that I have never used to gain a lot of experience with is Palm, but every other device I used.


Kevin: What exactly does the term “interim” CEO mean in terms of timing? Is this a three month thing, or will I be seeing you at 2am in the hotel lobby bar at BlackBerry World in 2015? It's a bit of tradition for regular attendees...

John: The interim CEO title is because I need to take a look at the management team and try to figure out our business strategy.

One does not organize for success. You have your business strategy first, and then you go organize it. My job is really to figure and focus on all the strategic things that the company is facing immediately, today, and also in the longer term -- three, five years out. So that’s the kind of horizon I have and what will occupy most of my time.

"I’ll decide how interim is interim"

I also want to make sure that I connect with the customers, I connect with the strategic partners, the people we need to do business with, distribution, and think about our method of going to the market.

So on a day-to-day basis I eventually will really need a good, solid CEO. That’s why I said I’ll do it on an interim basis and who knows?

I’ll think through and listen to everybody else and what their advice is and then I’ll decide how interim is interim.

Kevin: And the hotel lobby bar?

John: [Laughter] You normally won’t find me at the lobby bar, cause I’m not a big drinker. I do drink wine from time to time, but I don’t really drink a lot.


Kevin: What will you look for in a CEO long term? And I just want to say, there have been a lot of hash tags out there in recent months suggesting #CrackBerryKevinforCEO, so I’d like to know if I’m A grade material for you or not.

John: Well… [pause]... you know… you kind of need to apply. [Laughter] You know, if you’re serious, I’m going to get the HR people to contact you. [More Laughter]

"I’m looking for a software person"

On a more serious note, I think I’m looking for a software person. In my mind, somebody who understands the services side of the equation also. And I know you’d love to see us increase our marketing effort, so I’m looking for somebody who can help me with really reaching more people.

I have a tremendous respect for the technology people in the company. I don’t think I’m looking for a tech person, plus I came out as an engineer. I think I have certain sensitivity to whether these technologies are real or too good to be true. I have some sense on that so I think I could use some help on sales, marketing and services.


Kevin: Following up on the word “software”, one the of the questions that has been raised a lot in the past 24 hours is in regards to BlackBerry’s software of choice moving forward. Is BlackBerry 10 still the play, or could we see BlackBerry adopting something like Android going forward?

John: It’s way too early for me to make an informed statement on that. It would be very, very premature.

"What is BlackBerry without the device?"

Whatever is the right thing for the business, you need to preserve the reason why BlackBerry is around. I think just jumping to an Android without a thought through of why BlackBerry needs to be around and what makes us relevant and all that, before I answer that question, jumping to anything is inappropriate. You’ll find that I’m a little bit more thoughtful from a marketing perspective then to just go somewhere. I’m not that kind of person. I’ve only been on the clock now for almost 24 hours -- I think that if I made those statements right now conclusively, somebody should pull me out and shoot me.

[Laughter by Kevin]

And I’m being serious about that! People are asking me about handsets -- “are you going to get out of the handset business” -- and that’s really ridiculous of them to say that. I don’t even know what that means and on top of that, the majority of all our revenue and our customer interaction is with handsets, so I’m not quite sure why anybody would say that on account of a “big picture” thing. I know a lot of people like those sound bytes, but those sound bytes coming from somebody like me right now being reasonably new to the picture, it’s irresponsible.

Kevin: Well I’m glad I’m not going to ask you about handsets in my question next then… [ Laughter ]

John: I have to say this Kevin, and you know this very well... what is BlackBerry without the device? The question is, can we do more in that? It’s not about let’s not do this and do that. Sometimes it’s not business sensible to make those statements.


Kevin: I know our community would want to know this... are you on twitter or BBM? Do you frequent any social media networks?

John: Very occasionally. And the reason occasionally is because I want to keep myself plugged in, but I just really don’t have the time. You get on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn -- this list goes on -- you need to be a full time person doing this. Plus, there’s one other problem with this. A lot of times you put 140 characters out there and people take it out of context.

Right now I’m picking which new BlackBerry to use, and I’m chewing on whether I’m going to use a big screen versus a keyboard. I’m going to test drive both by the way, but if I say something on Twitter like “wow the Q10’s keyboard is great” then I will have about half of the population mad at me.


Kevin: I know we're down to our last question, so do you have any final message today for our CrackBerry community of longtime BlackBerry fans, customers and supporters?

John:  I am -- look at my record -- a very loyal person.  So your customers and employees who have attached their loyalties are really high on my list. So I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make sure I repay all their loyalty. I believe loyalty goes both ways.

Having said that, I still need to run a company. There’s always a tug-of-war sometimes between the two. I just want everybody to be patient and to be understanding but also understand that loyalty is high on my list. 


An experienced captain at the helm

John Chen, ladies and gentlemen. If there’s anything that we’re taking away from this brief chat, it’s that John is bringing a ship full of experience to BlackBerry. He’s not the type to make reactionary decisions while at the helm, he takes the time to survey the seas before acting.

He has a grasp on what it is that makes BlackBerry the company it is from both a software and hardware perspective. He knows that the user community is more critical to the success of BlackBerry than ever before, and that there’s wisdom in listening to the crowd. And as an outsider he comes to BlackBerry without any of the baggage that his predecessors brought with them.

John’s bringing years of turnaround experience instead. He knows what it takes to right the course of a wayward ship, though BlackBerry certainly is a bigger challenge than most, and it’s had a few brushes with icebergs along the way.

Reader comments

CrackBerry Q&A with John Chen, BlackBerry's new CEO!



Welcome Mr. Chen! As a long time BlackBerry supporter it's good to see someone with a strong track record like yourself ,who is dedicated to a positive future for BlackBerry! Also I believe that BlackBerry 10 is truly an amazing experience, it's just a matter of letting the consumer know they have great devices once again. Looking forward to a bright future!

Posted via BlackBerry Z10

Agreed. As I said before he looks pretty promising bec of his background and experience. Definitely liked how he responded to Kevin s question.

Welcome Mr Chen! Hope you can make a miracle and turnaround BlackBerry in being successful again.

Truly well said my friend! Man am I glad that BlackBerry is here to stay! #BlackBerry is the best!

Posted via CB10

Man Chen is good, I just read his words and felt convinced. If he is truly a man of action then BBRY is going to "rope-a-dope" all the non believers.
"Blackberry boombaya"

"Blackberry is the iPhone of smartphones"

It is, however, cool so you don't feel bad about hijacking his thread, like I'm about to do right now, so thanks immature first person, :-)

Anyway, I just hope that from looking at this site from time to time that Mr. Chen will know not to forget about the keyboard crowd. I know right now full touchscreens are "cooler" and most people care more about playing games and watching movies on their phones than using them for productive reasons, but that doesn't mean there aren't those people who NEED to have that physical keyboard. They can always simply just produce them in smaller quantities if demand is less, but please I hope BB keeps releasing keyboard phones with top-end specs. :-)

Posted without the aid of AutoCorrect with my physical keyboard via CB10

Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of having a touch capable screen on the Qwerty phones and of BlackBerry OS10 overall?

Posted from my Z10 running

So you want BlackBerry to go back another step? If anything BlackBerry needs to move forward hence "Keep Moving". You want a trackpad go back to BBOS7.

Posted via CB10

I'm still on BBOS7 :)
Just cos its new doesn't make it great..........look at all the Android crap out there.
I wonder how many Bold 9900's were sold compared to the Q???

I have spent hours on both the Z10 and Q10 in stores but can't see any advantage. In fact some tasks just seem clunkier without the menu key and trackpad. I'm not alone. It seems many are sticking with legacy devices.

The keyboard on the Q is absolutely gorgeous and much better than any other BB.

One good description of the Q I read elsewhere here was it had a "SSS".
A silly small screen. For what you need to do on it I concur.

I'll wait for the Z30 to hit here and may even jump to full touch. Otherwise as mentioned above bring on a Q30!!!!

I am someone who also thought I'd NEVER get used to not having a trackpad, and I also thought going from a keyboard (Torch 9810) to full touch would be tough. Believe me, I don't miss the trackpad at all on my Z10, and the touch keyboard is amazing. I never had a twinge of regret after I got hands-on with my Z10. The transition was very easy.

Posted via CB10

I agree. I currently own a Z and a Q, which I swap back and forth depending on my "mood." The Z is fun and handles productivity well, but nothing beats banging out emails or documents or blog updates on the Q's keyboard. I also must say, it is the best keyboard BB or anyone else has ever produced for a handheld device, and I loved the Bold's keyboard.

But the Q wreaks of productivity. Besides being able to hammer out 1500 words with relative ease, the keyboard shortcuts rock. Making calls to people you call a lot is 2 touches, if they're in your contacts but not a speed dial, it takes only a little longer as you go to the phone app, start typing the name, and select it from the list.

Right now, I'm using my Z because I was on the Q for a few weeks but soon I'll switch back, I'm sure. Either way, I can't lose!!! :)

Via CB10 & Z10 or Q10

It's funny for me to continually see people that can't adapt to a touch screen suggest that somehow they are more productive than those of us who have moved to a touch screen device. I run an IT department for a large hospital and I receive hundreds of emails and texts a day and have no problem being productive on my Z10. For me it's about the screen real estate.

Darwin had some thoughts about those that couldn't adapt. Just saying.

Posted via CB10

Don't really care if someone says first. Just wish the 25 other people who either like it or don't could just let it go and move into the discussion instead of making me scroll through a whole list of BS Thank you have a nice day

You do realise that the odds of posting first are nearly infinitesimal. I have been using this site for a while and have never been presented with such an opportunity so if a guy wants to highlight the fact that he actually did it I have no problem with that

Posted via CB10

empathy... I like you man. Not going to lie. The 1 time I posted 'first' Kevin actually responded. "Congrats! You did it (smiley face)". I'm a grown man, but I will not sit here and lie like it didn't make my day.

Some might say I'm stupid, or whatever; but that's because they haven't achieved it. I agree with you, I have no problem with it. It's the xyz amount of ppl after who reply with a pointless insult.

I agree. I've done it a few times and it is indeed as sweet as you suspect ;-). And what's the harm? ... you win: cookie.

John Chen does provide some hope.

Posted via CB10

Correct. I find the subsequent posts grousing about the "First" post to be the more annoying behavior.

Posted via CB10

And with those trying to point out that the problem is not the first poster but with how many people complains about it... I just did it myself.

Posted via CB10

+1. Sorry Mr Chen. Great answers to Kevin. 24 hours in... keep up the good work. and I hope you can right the ship. I'm leaving for a bit (circumstances) buy I hope to come back one day. My friends will laugh at me. But hopefully with you as the interim I'll have the last laugh.

Posted in landscape mode lying on my bed, cause portrait mode is too thin to hold upside down with two hands

for all we know, mr. chen is a serial "first" poster himself. now that would shut up QuIcKsIlV3r bigtime, he's been at it since the iron age.

Don't mind the person who said first, or the person who didn't like it who responds, but the people who respond to the people who respond to the person who said first to talk about how he doesn't like to scroll past people who respond to the people who say first are really annoying.

Posted without the aid of AutoCorrect with my physical keyboard via CB10

This ^
Everyone complaining about the first comment turn out to be more childish, due to the lack of self control.

1st ceo of bby who understands it not about the geeks and engineers. its about selling aka MARKETING THAT APPEALS to the customers...getting them to buy in to the culture of bby. I like this guy....long live the CHENpire

AMEN!!! I'm a geek myself, but I understand that marketing and sales are what make people actually buy!

Posted via CB10

+1 I really like this guy from this interview. I hope he can take BBRY and turn it around. Here's hoping Mr. Chen!

Posted via CB10

Look at his track record and you'll see why he was chosen. Prem chose him because of his track record for turning companies around.

Posted via CB10

His background is mainly related to software.
RIM future is becoming clearer and clearer.

Yeah, I thought I would put RIM instead of BlackBerry, since the brand is effectively dead

That line wasn't funny or cute in the Seeking Alpha article you lifted it from, and isn't funny or cute now.

Try again...

Posted via Z10 on CB 10...

He sounds awesome. Finally, a man of faith and vision, one that has balls like Jobs, to stick to their guns and run a company in faith and good management. Knowing the company has potential to succeed over time through hard work and patience, someone who won't sell out to andriod or some other stupid monopolistic company. Hopefully he runs with an iron fist and turns a deaf year to that useless committee. Perhaps I'm getting too excited here, but i'm happy nonetheless.

A camel is a horse designed by a committee.

I hope and pray that this guy tests drives the Z10 and Q10, then realizes that what this company was missing was the ultimate BlackBerry device. A screen that's large enough with a physical keyboard.

Because - God forbid - Blackberry should put out a device that is AHEAD of the market rather than a "me too" device that far too few care about. You know, many Blackberry longs have tried to compare BBRY to AAPL when they were almost out. But the key to Apple's comeback was taking risks and putting out devices that were DIFFERENT and NEW. Would be nice to see a unique Blackberry device that might give Android and IOS users a reason to buy a Blackberry device again. Because as much as I like my Z10, it's not different ENOUGH to get those loyal to the competition to consider switching. How about giving them something they can use in addition to what they already have - instead of as a replacement? Make a new category. The ultimate "phablet" or whatever you want to call it. Smaller than the playbook, but larger than the Z30. With a killer keyboard. Who else has that? Nobody.

Actually the ultimate device would be a torch design BB10. Maybe he should bring BlackBerry's new slide out keyboard patent to fruition.

Posted via CB10

A camel isn't horse and it was designed to survive in the desert. If that was what the committee was trying to achieve, they did a good job. What a dumb saying.

Yup. So sick of seeing this moronic analogy in these threads - and it has appeared multiple times. It's astonishing to me that people actually believe it contributes something of worth to the discussion.

How come when I write a post and come back and look at it, all of a sudden there's a typo in my comment? It seems that some moderator is trying to sabotage me, this is the second time I have seen this done to me. First was a comment I had that all of a sudden had a random "e" in it, then today I came back to check my comment on the Chen post and somebody changes the word "ear" in my comment to "year". What's up with that? Such childish and cawordice behavior.

A camel is a horse designed by a committee.

Yeah. Don't refer to them by their names. They'll just break your heart once they are gone. This one is CEO#3.

Hoping for a first, but according to the times I was #9secondstooslow

Swiped with one thumb from the virtual keyboard of my awesome Z10!

Would just like to add, welcome to #TEAMBLACKBERRY Mr. Chen! Wish you all the best at the helm.

Now that this is posted, about to CRACK open a fresh bottle of red vino and do a toast to you and the ongoing success of BlackBerry. Cheers! #WHENINFRANCE

I'd like to see your taste of wine, monsieur Kevin!

Posted via Z10 STL100-3 using CB10. Fido, Toronto.

Kevin, if you believe that Chen is a good move then you're deluded. TH has done all that was asked of him.

Fairfax are only raising 250 million of that 1 billion investment. Ask yourself, where is the other 750 million coming from?

BlackBerry are posturing.


Good question. And what happens if the $750M investors don't like what they see? Do they pull their money? Then what? What guarantees does BB have? You can't have in business.

I'm with you on that, Cin Cin. Good quick interview Kevin! He sounds focused and understanding of what he is about to steer.

"Good quick interview"

or could we see BlackBerry adopting something like Android going forward?


...I’d like to know if I’m A grade material for you or not.


Good interview for fanboys maybe, but for serious people I give it a "C" :-)

You need some vino too! Take it down a notch. As this "Good quick interview" comment implies: simple, humorous and to the point. Kevin knows the slew of of questions Chen will be receiving.

Chill out he's been on the job 24 hours like he needs to say something that the tech media will latch onto and take out of context.

Posted via CB10

All work and no play makes iShamid a dull boy!

Oops too late... ...seriously...!

Posted from CB10 via Zed10.

While you are digesting the wonderful interview you had with Mr Chen, could you please ask your team to solve the scrolling and page flipping issue on the CB10 app.

Posted via CB10

I agree. That is a major pain. I read a post, close it and I'm sent back to the top of the list. So now I have to scroll all the way down to where I left off. In doing this I often accidentally open another post. Guess what happens when I close it...back to the top. Start over stupid.

Posted via CB10

So annoying it makes me not want to use the app. The correct behavior should be to require a release and then a second swipe up once you've reached the bottom before moving to the next page. And trying to go back afterwards? Puhlease! Don't even get me started!

+1. My not-so-reliable workaround has been to flick very quickly so that the page scrolls to the bottom without the need for an additional flick while at the bottom of the page. If you need to move around at the end of the page, you can tap and hold and move around, but avoid lifting your finger or else it will be interpreted as a tap-and-pull refresh. Very annoying.

Just before you reach the bottom line the page, tap the vertical three dots at the bottom right and select "Next Page." It works like a charm.
What really needs to be looked at I'd signing in with Facebook. That was extremely painful.

Posted via CB10

It happens even when not remotely near the end of the page as well

"If you can't soar with the eagles then don't fly with the flock!" (BBM#18)


I now can't get to the end of the first page of any post before CB starts scrolling. Through the rest of them.

Posted via CB10 and Z30STA100-5/

What was it about big news when you are travelling, Kevin? Gone to France and BAM! New CEO. So... when is your next trip to France planned? I am sure we can expect some changed in BlackBerry then :)

Article is excellent, thanks for getting Mr Chen to talk to us, really appreciated. And I like his approach, I like his mention about the marketing.

Posted via CB10

So, he has fire in the belly! But it will take more than bellyfire to be the next Baryshnikov

Sorry for The Simpsons reference. I could not resist.

Posted via CB10

Mike/Jim we're Co-CEOs at the same time. To me that = 1. If they were running in succession and not in parallel then you could count them as 2. So I say we're at 3 BB CEOs to date with Mr. Chen.

Still only one Editor in Chief of CrackBerry though... I win! :)

It was a joke Kevin. And yes. Awesome footer there! Hope it doesn't change ;)

"If you can't soar with the eagles then don't fly with the flock!" (BBM#18)

I think it's extremely phenomenal that we can get first dibs on relevant information for BlackBerry. This just happened and we get this report. Really cool, keep up the great work.

Posted via CB10

Great interview. Maybe if the loyal fans make enough noise, we'll get a decent PlayBook update ;)

It probably would have been too early to ask him about it though. Give him a few weeks then we'll pop the big question lol

Posted via CB10

As a PB owner who still uses it everyday and would love an update I also agree fully with what you said. Time to move forward.

I'd rather have the next generation playbook come out with a name in line with other BB10 devices.

Bring on the T10

Posted via CB10

I disagree. It could still be a great low cost option for consumers and prosumers (priced like the Kindle Fire or Nook). With the right software updates, it could still be competitive despite the hardware lacking compared to competition. The Web browser on my Playbook is still as fast as recent Android and iOS devices - including tablets - (faster on some sites) AND does a better job of handling desktop views of websites consistently. Just give us PlayBook OS 3.0 - make some things more efficient / fix bugs, update the Android runtime, make BBM and other BlackBerry made apps available / fully functioning like on BlackBerry smartphones, throw in some of the requested functionality that the Beta Zone users have been asking for, and víola! Something worth marketing that can still be competitive and successful.

Posted via CB10

The Playbook holds up very well. With a full version of bridge for the new OS it would destroy.

Android tablets don't compare in terms of ease of use. This Asus I'm typing on can't even work its touchscreen with any accuracy.

BlackBerry charged way too much on an outdated, incomplete product priced equally same as iPad2 or other tablets of its kind with NO EMAIL ,CALENDAR for more than on year, and STILL NO BBM! Screwing loyal fans, is that right?

Holy crap get over it. People who go back on things that were long addressed are complete idiots. The PlayBook is actually a great tablet. Could use a few more apps, and a tweak on the browser speed would be nice, however it is a great OS, smooth, and a solid build. I have 4 units, all work great, and one I paid full price when released. The other 3 paid 100 bucks. No complaints.

Trolls should be forced to use BB10!

Has to be Canadian. Can't think of another country that seems trustworthy enough to have a company that handles other governments' sensitive communications. This company only works as Canadian.

I'm Canadian but just wanted to throw out there that the company that was hired to run the new website (which crashed) is based in Montreal.

Just saying.

If it goes to the United States I throw in the towel, and so will everybody else that's interested in security and privacy.


True, but we now has an American executive chairman and CEO, who immigrated from China (Hong Kong). Let's hope BlackBerry can benefit from Chen's background and wins back market share in US and makes serious inroad in the huge Chinese market. Let's also hope when the company is turned around, that it is not sold to SAP, a US company.

Canadian all the way baby. We invented the telephone, and we(rim) invented the smartphone. Let's keep this one at least

Posted from CB10 via Zed10.

"And I know you'd love to see us increase our marketing effort" Thank you! Finally someone who understands how important exposure is. All of my iPhone and Android user friends were impressed by my Z10 but they didn't even know it existed.

Posted via Z10, with 10.2 envy

I was thinking the exact same thing! BlackBerry's marketing efforts have been really lackluster. Don't just show off its hub and time shift.

Posted via CB10

I agree that was the comment of the interview. However read it carefully. "He knows we want more of an effort" is not the same as "I'm going to be making a larger effort for the marketing of BlackBerry"

Not being negative just keeping everything in context

Posted via CB10

He also basically admitted marketing isn't his specialty and he needs to surround himself with good marketing people. Whether he releases the failure Boulben remains to be seen.

He knows what he doesn't have expertise in and that is true leadership. I'm looking forward to seeing what happenes over the next few months. But I believe him when he talks about the long game.

Posted via CB10

Decent feeling about Mr Chen. Still cautious though.

He's in a better position without a leveraged private buy out. A leveraged deal would have added needless financial pressure to the company - i.e. Fairfax could have been stuck selling the furniture to pay the rent. The extra billion in financing eases pressure instead.

Mr Chen seems genuinely excited to be with us. I never got that vibe from the CMO. Although Mr Heins was key to getting BB10 to market, he couldn't connect with media to communicate his passion effectively. You can't go viral if your enthusiasm isn't infectious. Let's hope Mr Chen can deliver.

Posted via CB10

If I was the current CMO I might be floating my resume to a few places. To really right the ship Mr.Chen is going to have to step on some toes and break some balls, including a few in this site. All decisions must be made on sound business information and not on Fan Boys or armchair CEO's. It wont be easy and 2 years from now BB could be something totally different than it is now or like it used to be. The journey has just begun.

Speaking about loyalty, I wonder when it's time to resurrect the BlackBerry 10 for PlayBook crusade. That would be a pretty good shout out to the loyalists out there.

Posted via CB10

Honestly, no offense butv(and note that I own 2 playbooks, my dad, and sister in law also have one) people need to let the PlayBook go...

Posted via CB10

But BlackBerry needs a tablet. Add some RAM and a new processor. It is clear that tablets sell. Heins could not sell phones so why think it is the tablets fault?

don't really agree, with my z10, i would need a bigger screen very light in weight, with no processor or memory. Just a larger display (possibly wifi) for my phone that will handle all the work. imagine you can buy a 8", a 10", and a 21" screen that will just display with better resolution what is on your phone. Why would you need a tablet, you would have a small tablet, a large tablet, and even a desktop screen, without even getting your phone out of its holster or your pocket... This really would be mobile computing! (and it would cost less). Today, for mobile computing, I've a 24 inch hdmi screen, a mouse and a bluetooth keyboard connected to my phone. It would be great if even the screen could be wifi.

BTW, I have 5 playbook at home, and would have love to have an upgrade, but now is time to focus on something different.

Exactly and they have already showed that capability. One device controls all.

Trolls should be forced to use BB10!

Wish John all the best, I'd love to see him rescue our beloved BlackBerry and make us top dogs again.

Let's hope he does a better job than Heins did. Upwards and onwards BlackBerry!!!!

Posted via CB10

I feel a lil better listening to his words.... I liked that he knows Crackberry well.. and that loyalty is high on his list..... only time will tell what future he brings to BlackBerry land......

Posted via Lilly's hand stitched Frankensteined Z10 powered by 10.2.(latest Leak)

Wow so great he was willing to reach out to the community and sounds pretty down to earth. Has kinda pumped me up for the future.

Posted via CB10

Good job Kevin. I'm glad that Chen is a mobile guy and has used many different devices. I like that he is someone that regards loyalty highly as many of us have been very loyal to  !!

Posted via CB10

I think that BlackBerry had to go through these tough times in order to shake out the cobwebs and attract leaders like Mr. Chen and Mr. Watsa. I have the most confidence in what has happened today than in the past couple of years.

Mr. Chen's talk with CrackBerry was actually exhilarating to read!

Three Cheers for Blackberry!

Great job CrackBerry team for being on the stick to get in touch with Mr. Chen and present the information to the masses.

Posted via CB10

What? he just started... and would you want to move from Cali to... Waterloo... just in time for winter?

Posted via CB10

Would you like him to commute by Greyhound Bus? Let's be real; other CEOs move around by private jet too.

Links don't work within the vb app this is an issue that has been reported and existed for months and never been fixed

Classifieds Canada App

No, there is no time or expectation in the Globe and Mail article about Chen moving to Waterloo.

"Mr. Chen will continue to live in California and BlackBerry has agreed to let him use a company jet to commute to and from BlackBerry’s home city of Waterloo, Ont." - quoted from The Globe and Mail.


That's because the Globe doesn't publish positive BlackBerry news. Would not want the public to know BlackBerry is here to stay. Also Rob Ford was the big story for them. They have been hunting him for a year and finally got their kill. They have been preaching the destruction of BlackBerry for three years at least and the kill wasn't attainable yesterday!

Trolls should be forced to use BB10!

He has been so busy the last day I'm sure he hasn't had time yet to consider my offer to use my couch.

Best comment on here! LOL! Always amazed at the commentary. Uhm, about time Kevin got back to work! Or, is he still away. France. Not much substance in the interview to say anything really. Too soon to tell, I think much more change to come. I want to see action on the product placement front. Thorsten Heins brought OS 10 products to fruition, but failed to assess or create demand. He will be rewarded for this in spades. Sr. Mgmnt could not market or deliver a message of interest to consumers. That has to change. For that to happen a clear understanding of what BlackBerry stands for,past, present and future is needed by Mgmnt in moving forward with OS 10, BES10, BBM and M2M with QNX and embedded systems. This message must be consistent and evangelized!

Posted via CB10

He was strong as he could be about the importance of handheld devices, I thought. The media is all over dropping handsets like a hot potato since software is so high margin. This might be a stupid me knee here reaction and Chen knows it. Good sign.

What the heck is that statement about? Do you want him to fly coach ? Jeez powerful men time is money.

Very good interview. Hopefully he can repeat what he did at Sybase and bring BlackBerry into a new era of mobile computing!

Posted via CB10

Great little interview Kevin! I wasn't sure about this new billion dollar plan but this guy seems like he wants to turn BlackBerry around have it succeed rather than just come in gut it and walk away with a nice chuck of change. His loyalty comments struck a chord with me, too.

Posted via CB10

Things can only get better and I feel way more confident with this smart man at the helm!

Posted Via my Z-30

That made me feel a lot better, I know I want my phone made by BlackBerry and i know i don't want android on my BlackBerry. I wouldn't mind access to the Google store though. Can't I have my cake and eat it too

Posted via CB10

Chen isn't bringing "years of turnaround experience". He turned around one company, Sybase, who were then sold cheaply to SAP. Who looked at acquiring BlackBerry.


Disagree.. a few big takeaways from my point of view:

A) He made it clear it's too soon on the job to clarify anything. Can't make conclusive statements on day 1. Shows he's level headed.

B) Shows he's not here for a quick exit. Watsa / Chen really do appear to want to build real shareholder value into the company. They don't just want to sell it at an artificially low price and get out.

C) Shows he's willing to look at everything. On the Android / BlackBerry software question, he didn't just say we're sticking with BB10. 

D) Found it interesting that as he does conduct his hunt for a new CEO... whether that happens sooner or later, the he's looking for somebody from a software / services background.

E) Like Thorsten Heins, shows he values this community. HUGE change from the Mike/Jim era. Super glad that's the case. 

Thorsten only valued one thing, his severance pay.

On the strength of one interview you believe Chen is the saviour of BlackBerry?

They're sinking faster than a leaky submarine.


I don't recall using the word "saviour" anywhere... read every word of the interview and the posts we've written this week. I think everything we have said stands on it's own. No denying the current situation BlackBerry is in. Change is needed.. company needs to live it's BB10 motto... Keep Moving. And this interview marks a good start to them doing just that.

I never said you used "saviour", I'm asking if you believe he is.

I certainly don't. The whole thing stinks in my book.


Thorsten gave CrackBerry an interview on his first day too, look how well that turned out.

Let's give Chen a year then judge if he saved BlackBerry or just fattened his bank balance.


The differences are that Heins had to clean up the house first. And his predecessors made a massive strategic blunder with BB10.

It's a great operating system, but in the 18 months they took off developing BB10 their market disappeared and with it carrier interest.

Now they're starting from scratch.

But they're sat with millions of phones they can virtually give away and a billion dollars to spend. So who knows.

A give away is exactly what they should have done with the first BB10 phones. Sell them at cost with no contract just to get the volume out there. Couldn't have turned out any worse than the strategy they went with

I haven't seen any CrackBerry writers proclaim Chen is a saviour of any sort. After the failed comeback of 2013, everyone is proceeding with caution.

CrackBerry has become a lot more balanced than the days of constantly pounding the drum.

Is he the permanent chair of the board was really the one thing I wanted to know and how does someone with an interim tag on their title have the authority to bind the company to any particular strategy.

Kevin, I don't envy your job ( though it sounds really cool!) you can't please everyone. Even the ones that want BlackBerry to fail complain that there's nothing to take from the interview. I don't know what they read.

I don't know if he can turn BlackBerry around but it sounds like he's dedicated to the job he's been hired to do and is getting all the info he can before making any bold statements yet gets the point across that he is going to do something.

Good job great interview.

Posted via CB10

"he's looking for somebody from a software / services background"

Finally. Someone who realises mobile is really about software.

Lets hope he's not too late.

A) He 's being careful and I respect that. Anything else would be foolish. He did say, " The interim CEO title is because I need to take a look at the management team and try to figure out our business strategy...One does not organize for success. You have your business strategy first, and then you go organize it. My job is really to figure and focus on all the strategic things that the company is facing immediately, today, and also in the longer term -- three, five years out. So that’s the kind of horizon I have and what will occupy most of my time." So he is being cautious and trying to find out and state what the strategy is now. He doesn't have one yet. How long will this take? And who is advising him? Prem Watsa? Who else?

B) Chen said, "I do not want it to be sold at an artificially low price….we can turn this around and build real value for shareholders". So the shareholders can hope to get a higher share price if/when it IS sold? What exactly does that mean? 'Value for the shareholders' means a higher stock price, plain and simple. And profits. I agree with many that $9 was pathetic. So what's "real value"?

C) Leaving it up in the air means he is unwilling to make any statements at this early stage. Well and good. But it's interesting that he doesn't rule out Android. Looks like he's not willing to say anything concrete at this stage and that is fine. So agree with you there, Kevin. But this shouldn't remain the status quo. We BB users want to know what is happening in Waterloo. And no flipping. Decide and announce AFTER the decision is concrete.

D) This will be good to see -- but a CEO needs to be able to run a business AS WELL AS have an understanding of marketing, services and technology, and have even better people under him to run those departments effectively. If the CEO is the best at, say marketing, then the marketing department could suffer as he'd be too close and the others would suffer since the 'marketing' CEO wouldn't have a sensitivity for them (worst case). The CMO needs to be solely a marketing guy while the CEO needs to have a finger in each pie, engineering included.

E) Thorsten also interviewed with CB and other sites. Nice to see that Chen does too. But that didn't help Thorsten. The CEO needs to be able to be confident and project that to an often-hostile media. Thorsten often seemed to be asking for sympathy or understanding. Chen, DON'T do that. Take charge. Valuing this community means keeping his finger on the pulse of BlackBerry users. I've been a part of enough BBM group chats on the subject to know that we BB users have great ideas. BB needs to have a venue where we are actually heard.

Finally, in terms of the question of handsets, Chen said, "What is BlackBerry without the device? The question is, can we do more in that? It’s not about let’s not do this and do that. Sometimes it’s not business sensible to make those statements." What does that mean? He's being cautious, yes, but I'd like to see an interview in a month to see what he says then. It's not as though he is a new kid. He knows (I hope) exactly what he's getting into. He just doesn't want to say. I do hope he makes BlackBerry more transparent. No more, "coming soon". Just make it ready and ONLY THEN, tell us when/what is coming. These constant leaks were annoying. Everyone here knew all about the upcoming devices months before release. Nothing new at launch. Then the ridiculous delays with carriers. No wonder the stock tanked with the US release so far behind the rest of the world. The old "too little, too late" stuck due to this. My two cents? Keep devices/services on time and current. Anticipate the technology and the market and act accordingly. Be decisive. And market, market, market!!!

Hugs, bennyph. I love BlackBerry. So long as there are BlackBerry devices, I'll buy them. And off-contract price too. I just won't stand still while the device I love to use is being beaten down.

Your right about Heins. He was weak during interviews. Totally unsure of himself. " Well it just flows " is most of what I remember. Come on, when they are mocking you, and hitting you with false crap, pound the table, show them you are not going to put up with their rubbish.

Trolls should be forced to use BB10!

Kevin-The main reason Blackberry got screwed was due to the announcement of "Strategic Review" There was no need of the same. Many consumers and app developers decided not to go with Blackberry as they though the future was uncertain of Blackberry as a stand alone company. I guess it was a pressure from the institutional investors who wanted a quicker exit route. Imagine despite all the value Sum Of Parts whatever blackberry did not find even a single buyer who was willing to pay more than 4.7 Billion USD. Come-On stupid companies start ups are bought for 10x the sales. Look at yahoo they buy companies at ridiculously high valuations. No one paid Even like 5 Billion USD for Blackberry? And now Watsa tries to defend saying the debt for Blackberry's acquisition was expensive? As if these geniuses didn't know when they 1st announced the $9 deal. By doing this people who gained a little confidence that atleast Blackberry had some backing at $9 per share would now be even more pissed off. And $1 Billion is just a gimmick. Look at the terms it only favors Watsa and rest of the team. Watsa is desperate as he has his chunk at $17 so shall do everything and wont exit. God help Blackberry now. Why I write this? As I am one of Blackberry's most dissapointed investor. Not that I hate the brand I love Blackberry Brand and products but hate the way company is being treated by its board, CEO, CMO etc etc. The true dedicated people were the ones who lost their jobs due to foolish marketing efforts which screwed the BB10 launch.

Huh? "Strategic Review" means "we're in deep soup and need to be sold." the inability do do a transaction is a huge Black eye )sorry, capitalization due to BB10 random capitalization software) which the street recognizes. The net equity value has plummeted to just over a billion dollars. The only bad thing about the Strategic Review/Sale Process is that after everyone looked under the hood, they all balked and walked away. No takers at that price. Now it's a lower price, but the clock is also ticking, so the value declines and it will be a challenge, unless someone steps up soon.

Reminds me of ML Carr.

Posted via CB10

Going Android would destroy BlackBerry, so "Android" shouldn't be an option for BlackBerry regardless. Key taking from this info is BB10 is a closed platform, secure and almost flawless, built around QNX. Android cannot take a mobile OS beyond mobility, where as BB10/QNX can, and some.

Why are you even spending time on CrackBerry? You are a total pessimist & I hope your negativity consumes your brain completely so that you can't read anything on CrackBerry or anything about BlackBerry for that matter ever again.
Mr. Chen's responses are just what everyone needed & gives all loyal BlackBerry users & fans reason to rally & believe that what once was can & will be once again! Best wishes & positive vibes to you & your team at BlackBerry, Mr. Chen!

Posted with my BlackBerry Q10 via CB10.

That's unnecessarily harsh. Anilu7 had a very well thought out response. Not even necessarily negative. A good read.

This interview was great. John sounds awesome. Great job on the interview Kevin. Keep them coming

Sent via Zed10

Nutz to the Gimme BlackBerry 10 on my PlayBook soap's over! Move on.

Gimme BlackBerry 10 on a shiny NEW tablet!


Posted via CB10

I really hope Mr. Chen look very close the emerging markets like LATAM, and don't let us so behind of the latest innovations of BB

As a shareholder, I'm glad that BlackBerry didn't go private, that's because I truly believe it worth way more than 9 bucks a share. Seriously, how many companies own the os and the hardware together, not to even mentioned the rest of the awesome features of bb10 . Give it a chance it will rise up again.

Posted via CB10

Why are you holding shares in a company whose phone you use?that's like smoking and holding stock in altria.

Posted via CB10

It's also like using computer and holding stocks in software and hardware.

Wait. What?

Post via CB Z10

"because I truly believe it worth way more than 9 bucks a share"


What do you see that has happened in the last two years that makes you believe BBRY is worth more than Fairfax was offering? Bearing in mind that as soon as his offer expired the price fell two dollars.

Lots of investors seem to believe that just because THEY THINK it's worth more it automatically must be worth more. No wonder people lose so much in the markets.

BlackBerry lost carrier interest - that's why they're in a mess. And no amount of wishful thinking is going to change the reality that unless carriers can make the same margins on a BlackBerry they make on a Samsung they're not going to push the devices.

It's a simple commercial imperative. The retailer doesn't like the product. Not because it isn't great product - it is. But because they don't make as much selling BlackBerry as they do selling Android. (They don't make as much on Apple either but the iSheep keep coming back for more - then wondering why everyone else has such great phones!).

Agreed, they don't sell as much as Samsung and apple. Not even close, there are many reasons they don't, but are not permanent. What remains unchanged is that they have their own os (and it's a great one), handsets structures, and bes 10. Only less than handful companies have the 1st 2 components, and no one has the 3rd one. How many handsets this world will demand in the next 5 years? If not few billions, then few hundred millions at least? It's a huge pie, how can BlackBerry not make any money? Like Chen said, they have the ingredients, they just have to figure out an awesome recipe/strategy.

Posted via CB10

Right, little shark fish. Don't trash this holy trinity - - that only Apple can match - - by misreading what happened.

What makes anyone think it's worth more than the small premium to cash in the bank that it's trading for currently. The stock market isn't stupid. The company is hemoraging money. Companies that are losing lots of money with a limited ability to stem the tide generally aren't worth very much.

Posted via CB10

I starting to feel better about everything now. Maybe he is the guy we all been waiting for.
" I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make sure I repay all their loyalty "... when i read that i smiled.
I always believed in BB.. ive always stayed true. I'm behind you Mr. Chen.. you have my support.


What's with all your negativity? It's always easier said than done. Do you think that you could done the job better than Heins if you were given the opportunity?