Five Important Observations from having lunch with BlackBerry CEO, John Chen

John Chen w/ CrackBerry Kevin
By Kevin Michaluk on 13 Jan 2014 12:30 pm EST
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BlackBerry didn’t have a big booth on display at CES last week, but that doesn’t mean the company sat out the biggest tech event of the year. The BBM team was there spreading the word of BBM 2.0 which will soon land on iOS, Android and, of course, BlackBerry. QNX also was there, showing off its latest hotness for use in automotive consoles and displays. And, perhaps most important, BlackBerry’s new CEO John Chen was there.

In back-to-back meetings all week, Chen worked in some time to speak to the media, including an exclusive lunch date with CrackBerry. Unfortunately, the desert dryness had the better of my voice, so I wasn’t quite my usual chatty self. It was all good though, with Mobile Nations' Marcus Adolfsson joining as my wingman — between the three of us we had a very productive conversation and an enjoyable meal.

Because we tag-teamed the lunch, I decided Marcus and I should also tag-team the followup articles. Be sure to read Marcus’ interview with Chen, which does a great job of capturing the on-the-record discussion from our lunch date and goes into a lot of detail on BlackBerry’s near-term strategy going forward. As for this follow-up article, I’m going to focus on what wasn’t said.

Keep reading for my key takeaways from our discussion.

 

1. John Chen has a very good idea of what loyal BlackBerry users want.

How do I know this? Because we used this opportunity to tell him. And he listened. When I first interviewed John on the phone just over two months ago, I had just 15 minutes to ask questions, and at that point he was on the job for less than 24 hours. I’m not even sure at that point if he had visited CrackBerry more than a time or two.

Fast forward two months, and just as former CEO Thorsten Heins placed tremendous value on CrackBerry’s contributions and efforts and Mobile Nations’ massive community of mobile tech influencers, it’s clear this same value has now transitioned through to John Chen and the new leadership team he is building.  

Now meeting face to face and with more time on the clock, we expressed to John what we see are the biggest pain points for today's “enthusiast” BlackBerry smartphone users and what we believe the vast majority of us would like to see happen in the months ahead. John’s strategy for BlackBerry of course goes far beyond just the hardcore user, but it was great to have the chance to give us our list of wants directly.

 

2. There’s no magic bullet in the near-term strategy, and there are going to be different strategies in different markets.

In 2011 and 2012, we looked forward to 2013 as BlackBerry’s turnaround year. The launch of the BlackBerry 10 platform and release of BlackBerry 10 phones would be the singular event that would get things back on track for BlackBerry. It wasn’t crazy to expect this strategy would work. With more than 70 million existing users, just getting a decent portion of the existing user base to upgrade to BlackBerry 10 phones the first year would be a big boost to the company. Even during our interview with John, he expressed that he truly believes that the phone business is like the movie business, where you’re only one hit away from being great again.

The phone business is like the movie business, where you’re only one hit away from being great again

With the big BlackBerry 10 bullet fired in 2013 and not hitting its target, John Chen’s strategy for 2014 is more akin to firing a machine gun. There are going to be lots of bullets fired, at a lot of targets. No single thing is simply going to kill it and make all the difference to BlackBerry.

And while the launch of BlackBerry 10 was very much a global rollout — one strategy for the entire world — Chen knows he doesn’t have the ammunition to do that right now. Expect to see in different strategies for different markets. For example, in the U.S. it’s no surprise that carrier support for BlackBerry is waning (or almost non-existent). Here he can not rely on the U.S. carriers as much and instead go straight to enterprise and government customers with a direct sales team. In other emerging markets, where BlackBerry is still doing well and the carrier support is there, he can push phone sales hard throughout 2014 and beyond.

It’s not a straightforward path, and the marketing message will have to be done in a very smart way to educate customers in a way that’s not confusing. Bottom line, BlackBerry will operate in every market. Just don’t expect to see BlackBerry doing the same thing everywhere you look.

 

3. Looking at BlackBerry as a portfolio of businesses will allow BlackBerry to work on its marketing message and turnaround the negative cloud of sentiment that has become synonymous with the company.

Announced during BlackBerry’s recent earnings report, one of John’s first big changes has been a reorganization of the company around four distinct business units: enterprise services, devices, messaging and QNX.

John went into a lot of detail about this during lunch and spoke about the benefit of this repackaging for investors (read our John Chen interview for full details). Each of these business units within BlackBerry is in a different stage of development, at a different stage of profitability, and with its own unique set of competitors, challenges and opportunities. Talking about BlackBerry as a portfolio of businesses allows the company to tell its story more accurately to investors.

The realization I walked away with from lunch was that this strategy is also going to help BlackBerry clear the cloud of negative sentiment that has been lingering over the BlackBerry name for the past few years. Still, today, when you start talking about phones and the name BlackBerry comes up, the average person immediately pictures a BlackBerry phone (and more likely than not, one with a keyboard). It’s no surprise. Selling phones has always been what BlackBerry has been about. For years and years, every decision made at BlackBerry was based around the question, how does this help us sell more BlackBerry phones? The company wanted you to hear BlackBerry and think about its phones.

With BlackBerry pivoting from being a vertically integrated solution (to use BlackBerry services like BES or BBM you had to own a BlackBerry phone, too) into a horizontal provider (BES and BBM supporting multiple mobile platforms), the company is quickly changing the way it makes decisions internally.

On the flip side, the company now has to start changing its market message so consumers better understand the changes the company is going through. John reiterated that he has to go to work on his marketing message, and that’s something he really wants to see happen.

John Chen has given us a story to tell that makes a lot of sense

I really believe this notion of BlackBerry as a portfolio of businesses approach could go a long way in helping to turn around the negative sentiment with mainstream consumers, as this story gets messaged properly to them. Word-of-mouth is super powerful, and people repeat what they read in the media. In 2012, when people would say “BlackBerry is dead,” you could at least tell them about BlackBerry 10 coming to save the day. With the launch of BlackBerry 10 not being as successful on a sales standpoint as we all hoped, it has become really difficult to counter the “BlackBerry is dead” message. If you hear BlackBerry and think just about phones, and the phone sales are not happening, it’s difficult to argue.

Though it’s essentially a repackaging of what’s already is there, with this change in thinking John Chen has given us a story to tell that makes a lot of sense.

 

4. John Chen will absolutely make the changes necessary to execute on his strategy.

When Thorsten Heins stepped out of his BlackBerry COO shoes and into his BlackBerry CEO ones, the business strategy was already set. He had to bring BlackBerry 10 to market. Given where the company was at, the amount of work that had already been put into it and was left to do, he really had no choice but to stay the course and focus 100 percent on getting that done. He definitely had the ability to influence this strategy — he brought in a new CMO and COO to help market BB10 and get it built — but given the timing he wasn’t about to pivot on big strategy until BlackBerry 10 was launched. Looking back, perhaps the biggest strategic changes Heins made were behind the scenes. Speaking to lots of employees over the past year and half, it’s clear Heins greatly improved the culture at BlackBerry from the Jim Balsillie/Mike Lazaridis era. This is quite a feat if you consider how badly BlackBerry was being beaten up, and that Heins was downsizing and restructuring the company during his reign.

He clearly has the drive to make BlackBerry succeed, but he doesn’t have the protectionist vanity that can come with being the one that founded the company

In contrast, John Chen has stepped into the BlackBerry CEO role from the outside. He has no BlackBerry baggage to carry with him. And he’s stepping in at a time where literally many years of hard work have been completed — there is now a new platform in market to sell and build on top of. BlackBerry 10 is here. And it’s clear clear that Chen will make whatever changes he feels necessary to turn BlackBerry around.

Talking to Chen, I feel like no idea or strategic pivot is out of bounds, as long as it makes sense and he thinks it’s the right thing to advance BlackBerry as a company. He clearly has the drive to make BlackBerry succeed, but he doesn’t have the protectionist vanity that can come with being the one that founded the company. This is a big difference to Mike and Jim’s Research In Motion, where for years they made a lot of strategic decisions that just seemed, well, stubborn. BlackBerry was their company and they ran it the way they wanted to. And because they had been very successful, they really felt their ideas were always best because they were their ideas. I felt this way of decision-making began to disappear in the Heins era, but Heins was really executing on the strategy that Mike and Jim put in place while they were still there. This is JC’s BlackBerry now. There’s no baggage. No ego. He’s going to make whatever changes are necessary to get it done.

 

5. He’s smart enough to know what he doesn’t know.

Clearly, John Chen is one smart cookie. You don’t walk into a position like this if you’re not. What scares me about smart people sometimes is when they’re too smart and they think they have all the answers about all the things.

Thankfully, Chen knows where he needs to surround himself with people smarter than him. For example, on the handset front he spoke very highly of Ron Louks, recently appointed by Chen to take over leadership of the devices business.

A beaten up company can be very attractive for the best people to head to

Speaking to Chen helped to alleviate one of my biggest BlackBerry concerns of late, which is a loss of talent. I know a lot of smart people who have left BlackBerry over the past couple of years to go work for “the competition.” And with BlackBerry being pretty badly beaten up these past couple of years, I assumed it might be difficult to recruit top talent. Without talent, it doesn’t matter how good your strategy is — you won’t be able to execute it.

Chen has no worries over this though. There are still a lot of smart people at BlackBerry, and recruiting top talent isn’t an issue. In reality, a beaten up company can be very attractive for the best people to head to. Think about it. Share prices for BlackBerry are extremely low. If you get in there, get your shares and help turn things around, there’s a lot of room for growth.

Hell, it almost makes me want to apply.

 

PART I: Read the full CrackBerry interview with BlackBerry CEO, John Chen for more information

Reader comments

Five Important Observations from having lunch with BlackBerry CEO, John Chen

222 Comments

They need to hire you as a CB consultant Kev. You represent our voices from the Forums. Thanks so much for posting this.

Totally agree!!! Definitely should consult with you guys more from CrackBerry to better understand what BB users want, get input and etc

I was really hoping for a taped interview with John so we could all get our own conclusions out of it. Still, I guess this is a very decent summery.

As I said before, we can only hope for the best and see this company turn around.

Go Mr. Chen we are all behind you!

Posted via CB10

Kevin, you need a PA? Just drop me a line.
I may not be great at taking notes or arranging meeting, but willing to learn.
:)

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

Never read so much brown nosing. Some jealousy for the other reporter mixed in too. You would think this guy is a god. This was a fan club interview, not a professional journalist challenging the man at the head of a company which is struggling to say the least.

Posted via CB10

Hey, just didn't know how to spell his name and it wasn't showing up on my spell check. But I guess you knew who I meant ;)

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

He seems to be making all the right noises. Time to be patient now. I think this is as good as it's gonna get with Chen at the helm.

Posted via CB10

It's like he handles each interview better and better. Can't wait for this plan to come to fruition.

Posted via BB-Z10. OS 10.2.1.

Good stuff Mr Chen indeed!

I've been loving my Z10 since launch and still reckon it's the best out there right now.
I'll keep it until the next BB10 phone pops out under this new leadership for sure.

It's exciting to be BlackBerry again, hurrah!!

Posted via CB10

Agreed! The z10 has gotten a lot better since I got it when it launched on February 5th thanks to the OS updates improving it, adding new features and etc. Can't wait for the 10.2.1 update.

Just wish the battery was a bit bigger

That was a great read. I truly do see vision and scoop at the relm of BlackBerry.

Thanks for that insight Kevin.

Posted via CB10 on my Q10SQN100-3/10.2.1.1925

BlackBerry,

Let me know when you would like resumes sent in. John Chen knows what it takes to be successful. As a proven sales executive, I'm confident in my ability to help the company with value props and getting BlackBerry into enterprise markets.

Thanks.

Jake

If you're that eager to work for BlackBerry, they might be more impressed if you were to actually apply to the right co...? Not at CB? (I'm not being entirely serious here!)

Posted by the inimitable Z10 handheld system

I'll apply to be the Director of Retail Development. I have a plan to help turn around retail performance for BlackBerry.

"With the big BlackBerry 10 bullet fired in 2013 and not hitting its target, John Chen’s strategy for 2014 is more akin to firing a machine gun. "

Yes!

When wp7 launched it took a very long time to even make a dent..... and in all fairness it wasn't until Nokia started to really turn the screw that anything really changed. now they have slow and steady growth. I feel it will be similar with blackberry. The market is still there for them and they have a fan base that Wp in the early days could only dream of. Chen is right. Look at what happened with the HTC one. Great design, rock solid Os. Listen to its customers and the market. I for one am confident.

Posted via CB10

Overall it hasn't as they sell so many other different models. Within android it's success has been lost in the void. As a bb10 device if it had the same success the story would be different for blackberry.

Posted via CB10

Last I heard HTC had sold in excess of 5mil units of the ONE. At this point would that not be a victory for BlackBerry if they managed that in the next 6 months with a new model.

Posted via CB10

Yes, it would, but we already have the amazing Z30, so I think Chen will push the Q10 and Z10 for enterprise, with the Q5 and Z30 for consumers until new devices are released, I could be wrong.

I think the loss has been accounted for ending with all models in 2013. They production cost alone of them devices was high. Only a budget model can make a difference now. The $99/£99 device is so important now I really can't stress it enough. Sales alone of the lumia 520 was enough to give Nokia a running turn over. This is the future of BlackBerry with one high end release untill enough people are buying cheaper BlackBerry phones and happily using all the services it provides. Another corner stone will be cloud services. BlackBerry needs it up and running as soon as possible if it want to make a full functioning come back!

Posted via CB10

Because it's CHEN, man! Chen! Having said that, I've attempted hamburgers w/chopsticks (and ice cream...don't judge me!). Heart Attack Grill... LOL. Just thinking of that place gives me cardiac soreness. o___O

Different strategies is a good move. Very good.

But he has to acknowledge the "stong in emerging markets" fallacy. Brasil is an emerging market. It's THE biggest market in Latin America, the amounts of phones sold here is just stupid. And all but ONE carrier (out fo the 4 LTE ones - I tend to ignore Nextel as they just now got a new Curve to update from the dated 8350i) bothered with placing the Z10 on the store windows. The one with the most market share gave up on BB, they are pushing WP8 (with success at that).

So, yeah, different folks, different strategies. Good move Chen. I hope you get the whole picture though before you act. I know you can make it work if you get all the info you need.

Carriers hate BIS here. Why? 1- it's hard to train people on it (specially since the ration of empoyee coming in vs employee going out is as stupid as); 2 - BIS here is UNLIMITED! How can they sell shitty plans that capp at 500MB if you can get BB with unlimited data? Carrier's solution? When people ask, blame BIS not working on BlackBerry and don't fix the issue/don't activate it on new pre-paid accounts.

So yeah. Rant off. Good luck with that Chen. Seriously.

Hi, I'm not really sure why you found it to be such an insightful read. I didn't find anything within it that hasn't already been stated elsewhere.

Classifieds Canada App

I agree. There are not many details and lots of general statements pointing to exactly nothing concrete happening for consumers in the near future.

Not having a booth at the show is curious to me. Does that look like any kind of position for someone who claims to want to turn up the marketing volume?

Seems to be an awful lot of sheep drooling over nothing.

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

Kevin

Good interview and I know that BlackBerry does not have the funds to do any major marketing campaigns in the USA, but did he give you any indication, as to, why "Prosumers" in the USA are unable to get a Z30 from ATT?

Even if only through an online transaction?

You can get a Z30 for AT&T very easily. 1. The Verizon Z30 is unlocked and works perfectly on AT&T. Just put in your AT&T sim card and it's ready to go (w/ 4g). Or 2. Buy a factory unlocked Z30 from Negri Electronics. They're available now for $604. The Verizon model is only $550. Both run equally well on AT&T's network.

I wouldn't say 'perfectly,' unless you're ok with HSPA+ and location-based, sporadic LTE on AT&T.

Good observation Kevin. I'm glad you had the chance to ask Chen about your concerns also. Glad he's listening.

#PoweredByBlackBerry

Kevin -

Here is the rational to my above question. BlackBerry Z30 has, probably, "the best owner ratings EVER for a BlackBerry product on Verizon's website"....

With its 4.8/5.0 stars and 95% of owners would recommend it to a friend..... it destroys iPhone 5S and really destroys Galaxy S4 in these rankings.

in other words - the Best BlackBerry ever is unavailable to ATT customers...?????

When I brought my "unlocked Verizon Z30" to my ATT store to have it put on my account.... the ATT technical guys MARVELED at what an amazing phone it is and, especially, while you have a window of time for it to be the "only real 5 inch alternative to Android phones" on the market....

is any of this making any sense?,...

Agreed, but the Q10 had a similar rating, and it didn't exactly bust the scene.

They make great phones, but nobody knows about them.

When I bought my Q10 at the store the guy questioned me on why I was wanting to buy a blackberry.

The word is not out how much better these phones are.

I think that shows how much most staff in these stores know about the products they sell, which is none.

Their knowledge extends to the phones they personally have. So much for independent advice.

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

That reminds me, when I went in to my local store to enquire about the Z10, the response I got was I should look at the Samsung range.

Well I purchased my Z10 at another store.

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

"They make great phones, but nobody knows about them."

Correction: They make great phones, but nobody _cares_ about them.

BlackBerry is the epitome of irrelevancy.

The only people with a Z30 are hardcore BB fans; it's not a phone that the general public buys. So, it's normal to expect the reviews to be strongly skewed. If you picked 1000 random smartphone owners and gave it to them to use for a week, right out of the box with no prior outside instruction, you'd get very different results, but that would be a more realistic result as well.

Perhaps, Troy..... but I, actually, owned a Galaxy S3 for a year... S4 is "more of the same".... BlackBerry Z30 is "The Best Smartphone on the Market" for people who need produce and communicate.... and if you are "smart enough" to be able to sideload Android apps - you can have some of the play baby stuff.

When 10.2.1 becomes available en masse - the play baby stuff will be real easy to access... ask my friends here who have loaded "leaked versions" of it...

You aren't being realistic about what "the general public" means. You're talking about yourself (clearly a smartphone enthusiast at the very least, to be posting here) and not about average buyers. I'm not trying to take anything away from BB; BB has an audience for sure, but you can't compare reviews from the general public(i.e., the random people who have posted reviews of the iPhone) vs. a very narrow group of heavily pro-BB folks who own and use Z30s.

Troy - Unfortunately, you don't know what you are talking about when you say "compare reviews from the general public" on Verizon... unless you have a Verizon account - you can't even "review" a phone on their site..... it's not the "general public" writing the reviews - it is Owners of the phones and, unfortunately, for Fanboys and Android fans..... Z30, apparently, is a better phone...

You aren't getting it.

The Z30 is so out of the mainstream that the only people who have it are the ones who specifically want it before they even walk in the store and ask for it by name. Hell, some probably have to talk the store into selling it to them, or have to order it and wait for it. That's a BIG filter that removes anyone who wasn't totally committed to BB.

If you walk in ANY carrier store and say the word "iPhone", you'll be sold one in a couple of minutes and you'll be on your way, and unlike Z30s, many people buying them are non-technical people, with some never even having owned a smartphone before. Virtually every Z30 owner not only has owned a smartphone before, most of them have owned Z10s (or maybe a Q10) before.

If you know anything about taking surveys with scientifically-valid samples, you'll understand why this is different, and why the review results are going to be skewed.

Again, I'm not trying to take anything away from the phone itself; it's the best BB10 phone to date, without a doubt, but comparing a phone that's sold MAYBE 100K units in the US to hard-core fans of the platform to a phone that's sold 5+M units to both fans AND non-techie/non-fanboy folks just can't be compared directly.

Either way, it's good that the Z30 will show up when people search for Verizon phones by user rating. The Z30 will at least be on the radar.

Posted via Z30

Doo.... Great point.... unfortunately, the Fanboy/Android Heads at Verizon don't even know how to show someone how to use a Z30 if someone "stumbled upon it" under "Best New Phone On the Planet"...

Buyers of ANY device should NOT have to be "smart enough" to use the its full potential- sales made that abundantly clear

Actually no verizon, is actually trying g to push the phones. At least they are in my local store. They are actually glad someone is "sticking it to android" so they said.

Posted via CB10

Glad you finally got a good talk in with the mighty Chen. As I've said before, I really liked Thor, but I think Chen is the man to put BlackBerry back on track.

Posted from my CB10 via the power of "Q"

Maybe this has been said elsewhere and I'm just l8 to the news, but how will marketing be dealt with now that the CMO was relieved etc..what is strategy or way forward there?

Looks and sounds similar to the meeting with Thorsten Heins and look what a disaster he turned out to be. You guys are already counting your chickens....good luck!

Save all you want, poor fella, full pessimistic depressed dude.

U still have BlackBerry enemity for no reason.

Posted via CB10

I'm glad someone said it! This is the same optimism that was going on when TH took command and at the end all these Crackberries were cursing him to hell. Save the optimism when this Chen Bozo does what he actually promises and raises BB from the dead. You guys are so fickle.

And I'm going to save an image of Lenin17301on my toilet roll, and enjoy using that face of his to wipe my a#se every morning

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

I hope you actually care about Blackberry, so that you kill yourself out of grief when it finally goes down. Cheers.

Lol, let Lenin have his fun. Guys probably on parole anyway.

What happened Lenin, you got caught looking up women's skirts?

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

...if but they were women... Gotta love the chaps who visit a platform enthusiast site to become a resident trog wishing death on its denizens. (We should really pity them if this is THE highlight of their lives.) Cheerio!

I would normally trash the trolls, but Lenin is making me laugh. It must be that police mugshot he has posted up as his avatar.

Hey, he could be our crackberry mascot.

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

Hi Kevin,

Does Mr. Chen has any plans to put qnx in more consumers devices like tv's, cameras and home appliances?

Posted via CB10

I am glad he sees that the North America needs a different marketing strategy than the rest of the world. Leverage some revenues to flood North America with strong, technical and emotional advertisment. That's what that fruit company does and it seems to work.

One thing that's immediately encouraging about John Chen's strategy with growing the company as four distinctive units is, BlackBerry without the massive inventory write downs we've seen is probably already a profitable company and should be able to tolerate a few more lean years in device sales. However, with BB10 being as good as its likely to catch on sooner rather than later.

Sent from my BlackBerry Z30

I agree but Blackberry still has a huge image problem. Not to mention countless others who still think 10 has a supposedly "huge learning curve", comparing it to ios n android. Once they properly resonate with the millions of loyalists out there things will snowball eventually. Its just a matter of time now.

Blackberry, my proverbial middle finger

@kastortroy You, my CB comrade, have a GREAT sig. With your permission, I'd like to swindle this for casual conversations when asked about my Zed. (I think I now know what my next wallpaper will be...when we can finally get a blank homescreen!)

"how does this help us sell more BlackBerry phones?" This question was obviously not asked when they didn't enable the balance feature on BB10 devices like it was on playbooks. So many companies are looking at BYOD, including ours, and that would be a huge factor in decisions being made on where to go with BYOD. I know if this feature was available in BB10 like in the playbook our shop would have stayed a BB shop now we are 1% BB and the rest Iphone/Android.

Wat BlackBerry needs 2do is make os10 more stable man 2 answer a call on Skype was such a pain 2day. Even th black theme on os10 keeps crashing. On my BBM I can't see all my contacts display pic. As much I love my z10 some times it just pisses me off but I still love my BlackBerry

Posted via CB10

1. Can you elaborate on what Chen was told these pain points were and what enthusiasts want? I don't consider people carrying around every type of phone someone who has to deal with pain points as they use the other phone as a workaround. Someone who has a BB10 device as their daily driver and can't pull out a second device can identify the pain points much better.

2. If he can't rely on US carriers, is he going to offer a real solution for US consumers to buy BlackBerry devices. Z30 only available to Verizon is first thing that comes to mind even though there are phones that will work on two other carriers.

3. I don't think this will get rid of the negative perception, just the perception of the viability of the company. People can think that the company is going to survive, but still tie the name with BBOS phones.

Posted via CB10

+1 on the painpoints and enthusiast needs. It would be nice to see the list. I've maintained for a while that I'm not sure CrackBerry writers are really representative of average consumers or even, to some degree, hardcore BB users. There is a difference between fans/loyalists and power users. That's not implicitly a negative thing, just a distinction. The same thing could be said about fans of Macs vs. power users, the ones using Macs for digital imaging, desktop publishing, etc. in the 90s when it wasn't cool and Apple was on the brink.

First, by their inherent Mobile Nations employment, CB writers are not in any of BBRY's typical verticals, the industries Chen is targeting. Maybe Chris is an exception given his background, but I don't know about the others. This leads to the second factor: how many of the CB writers have had their BB device attached to a BES server and enterprise data plan (which was an additional carrier fee on top of the data plan fee)? My guess is few. And since the writers are not in emerging markets, they likely were not really impacted by the move away from BIS. Finally, there is your point about them carrying multiple devices. That has to mitigate the impact of the app gap. Sure, using multiple devices is the nature of their job, but that doesn't mean the point should be dismissed.

Again, this isn't meant to be a knock, just a point of consideration--and one that can be generally applied to members of the media when it comes to tech. Just look at the media bias towards Twitter.
As BBRY hones its sales force, I hope it establishes a strong steering committee of power users and loyalists across multiple industries and geo markets to ensure it really understands what made it successful in the past and what it needs to do to maintain and then grow its base.

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

Good points, especially about BIS removal in emerging markets.

Results in less BB10 uptake, but more negatively about BlackBerry as experience is still with a BBOS device.

I can't convince my family who have used BlackBerry to stay instead of going Android. They'll complain lack of BIS bit will shift to an Android because the feel of the phone and it's looks even though the DATA hunger on Android limits them.

They content to use limited data when out and come home to WIFI for the rest of the heavy downloading.

Don't understand why they call that mobile but that's the perception.

I wish we had different strategies for emerging markets, like keeping BBM, Social Networks, BlackBerry protect and email on the BlackBerry NOC for consumers.

Enterprises are so negative, regarding BlackBerry,
Even if it's going to cost them twice the headache and complexity to do exactly what BlackBerry does they don't seem to be interested.

Issues we really need to change and sell to Business

Posted from my awesome HUB enabled  Z10

What I like about Chen is he is honest about where the company is now and the challenges in front of it. He understands BlackBerry's strengths and has identified the weaknesses and what he needs to do about them.

I think best of all he didn't spin the bad news. There is no "best launch ever" in him. He was honest about BBM and BES and the challenges rolling from BB7 to BB10. I like that.

The fact that he's got no ties to the legacy may be the defining thing that makes him the best choice in the end.

Nice shot there, and surprisingly, is that in a Chinese restaurant? Ahahahhahaha.

My utter respects to the both of you.

Blackberry, my proverbial middle finger

What were the ills that you shared with JC? Can you share what points you came into the meeting prepared to ask? Even if you can not share some of the responses, it would be helpful to understand what you perceived the grievances of the CrackBerry community.

Thanks!

Posted via CB10

This interview spoke about NOTHING any of us wanted to hear. I dont care about your "reorganizing"...and dont try to feed me the notion that This is the begining for what you want to hear"
Its simple; We can all admit that BlackBerry Hardware and Software are GREAT products but the phone has NO marketing and NO essential apps...NOT EVEN YouTube. Stop talking me to def and just get apps and ADVERTISE ADVERTISE ADVERTISE.

Steve Jobs(RIP) and Apple got masses of ppl to go out and buy an ALL glass Iphone that cracked everytime you sat it down! THEN they got everyone to go out and buy the next generation one too lol lol its a joke!
You can sell ppl _____* and tell them its Mineral Water if you market it right. Somebody tell me i'm lying!

Z10STL100-3/10.2.176

Very true. Apple is a prime example of a company that leads it's consumers into buying it's products..... it tells you what you need to buy. blackberry on the other hand makes what It thinks people needs and doesn't put enough into marketing like apple. Two very different strategies, Nd one isn't working!

Posted via CB10

The impression I always received with BlackBerry marketing was that it was presented by men in suits, and the jargon was always technical.

Just let the product show it self.

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

I think just like apple..... blackberry should be presented doing what it does best and being shown how it integrates into everyday life of all different people. simple concept that people instantly identify with. Something that is your friend and helps you organise your life and brings everyone closer to you.

Posted via CB10

True, but even men in suits hire ppl/consultants that have studied how to create excitement around a product, how to make ppl think your product is "cool", how to get ppl to buy into a concept.

No commercials??? If I were the CEO I'd literally be smacking ppl from the marketing department....till my wrist started to hurt.

Posted via CB10

Its just a fact. The average person buys with their eyes. it's very shallow but on some level we all do it. In that moment before you actually want to know what that phone can do and how it runs...... on some level you think about how it looks firstly. Apple nailed that one and HTC jumped on the band wagon. Problem with the Z10 is it just wasn't made of premium materials. Its a shame coz it's a blinding phone!

Posted via CB10

Drewood66,

Lets see, you hired a new global sales manager this week. I am not sure if he has even reported to work yet, so he certainly has no way of knowing what is going on in the market place in general and most certainly not in specific markets. Understanding the various markets and getting to know his team, who is who and who does what, who is good, and who is bad will BEGIN to take shape in about 90 days.

You are moving your manufacturing to a completely new vendor and facility, this is a very heavy lift and the details are incredibly complex. Lots of people and processes need to get on the same page. Set up, testing, training, rework, warranty support, shipping, on and on. At least a quarter.

The retailers have basically signed off, hell you can't even get Verizon to update the OS. And they are not being hurt by their position, so they are not in a hurry. A compelling business model needs to be set up, and as of now there are too many unknowns for them to commit to anything. The only leg into the their business at present is for BB is to drive the business units through the commercial channels and spec BB into the project, often that will happen as the Verizon/ATT team is pitching a competitive solution.

So in summation, there is a brand new management team, a new sales leader, a new manufacturer, and you think it is a good time to advertise in the US, where millions of dollars barely make a dent? The only accomplishment would be to blow a hellava a lot money to get some folks into the stores and have them frustrated. Actually, there is one other benefit to driving potential customer to the stores, it gives the retail clerks more opportunity to bash BB and sell Apple/Samsung, the result being it would actually help the competition.
My comment is a reply to this post, but more so to the many posts that think if BB just starts running ads on the TV, everything will be champagne and roses. I suggest 6 months, perhaps longer, then they can take a look, in the meantime not much will change on the retail front.

Nick

Good points Nick. i wasnt to speaking to the fact that there arent any BBY commercials now, I was spekaing to the fact that there NEVER was a media marketing push to speak of. It doesnt seem reasonable to to be selling a product globally and not make an impressive media marketing push to the top market places.

About BlackBerry "restructuring": I'm a consumer, I dont work for BlackBerry. The news about restructuring is something that only employees and maybe investers need to know, sent through to a work email or something. It sound pacifying to me. As consumers we want to know what you(BB) are doing to make people want a BB10 phone, not new department head names or any other work related stuff.

I'm lost on why some of you people even come here. All these things going on, a huge strategy reorientation (which makes sense to me, leveraging the companies true size), and your only goal is to kick mud on the actual hopefuls, the brand, and complain about the goofiest crap. Misery loves company apparently because a few just enjoy trying to trash everyone's hopes and make them miserable too. These aren't Androids or iPhones which sound a far better fit, but good luck. Keep trashing, we'll keep beliving and supporting the brand instead. Stay classy boys and girls :)

Posted from BitPusher's Q10

I've switched back to blackberry Q10 after yrs with Samsung. 1. I wanted my keyboard back and when BB switched platforms it was the right time to move back. 2. I love the HUB and I feel BB should promote this much better. I tell all my friends about the HUB and how easy it is to access all your accounts. There are many who don't use the phone for surfing the web. I would rather do that on my Ipad. I still miss a few of the apps BB does not provide. The Camera is also a very very important piece of hardware I feel BB can improve on. But over all I'm very happy that I made the switch back to BB ...because the phone itself is built rock solid.

I was a two device person until the Q10 came along. Before it was 9900 and 4s before. For the first time the Q10 had enough in all areas to ditch the iphone. Best of both worlds now.

Posted via CB10

Agree, Q10 is an awesome phone. All the Delloite auditors in our office use them. I upgraded from the 9900 to the Z10 for the first time to try out a full touch screen. Z10 great mobile and I also want a Q10

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

Question is....... is the Z30 enough of an upgrade in your opinion over the Z10 Seen how you own and are happy with what you have

Posted via CB10

I would love a Z30, in fact I held out, but it was still way down the line before we got this in the UK so I gave in to buy the Z10. Awesome phone too. Just would like to add to the collection with a Q10 and Z30.

I still have my 9900

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

Fair play. I still have my 9900...... err and even my 8520. Dude the Q10 rocks..... but so does the Z10. let's just hope the Q30 or whatever it will be called isn't to far away:-)

Posted via CB10

Well I purchased my first blackberry back in 2006, the Pearl and have been with BlackBerry ever since and always upgraded every year to the latest model

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

Now here in the UK, choices of the BlackBerry Phones are getting scarce, also less discounted handsets which makes it more expensive now.

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

Atleast the Z10 is £149 at carphone now. This has gotta help get bb10 into UK people's hands.

Posted via CB10

Hope so. The guy who sits next to me at work saw my Z10 And I used to show him the features on the phone.

Well..... he bought 2 for his parents as he liked it so much

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

Funny how bb10 handsets are rare........ yet everyone wants to have a look at your phone:-)

Posted via CB10

There's got to be a way to use this "Unicorn'ness" to BB's advantage. In terms of (I hate to say it), "the average consumers," probably just one, really "cool" (in their eyes) celeb of some sort sporting the device in public.

I think that's the high end device that's really needed after the budget one. Business users need something they can identify with. They won't buy budget...... nor would i..... but I understand the real need for the $99/£100 mark. Bread and butter is needed first.

Posted via CB10

After seeing Kevin's review of the iPhone with the Typo keyboard, the thought of a Q10 with a larger screen had occurred to me. Guess that could be a nice path for the next blackberry model.

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

In truth, I think it's the only path that will be accepted on the Q range now. At the very least a jump to 3.5 inch is needed.

Posted via CB10

Agree. But in addition to a larger screen, it needs some smart software that optimizes the experience for the screen size. For example, the "Reader Mode" in the browser should be built into the OS and available for all apps. And the photos app should have an innovative viewing mode that to make viewing pics more enjoyable on the smaller screen. And most importantly, it should exploit the heck out of having a physical keyboard accessible at all times.

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

Good article. I like the positive vibe Chen's getting from the CrackBerry community and, frankly, I like the way you articulate his strategic vision.

My biggest concern about Chen is that he's stepping back from a really meaningful opportunity: BlackBerry 10 as a platform, which competes with iOS and Android in the first world marketplaces. He can return BlackBerry to profitabilty by niching down, but there is no way that a SaaS or enterprise services company can grow to even a fraction of the potential BlackBerry has as a growing mobile computing platform. Now, I understand that BlackBerry 10 is not growing significantly and competing in this race was a large part of what our dismal 2013 was about, but I had hoped the new CEO would address the reasons for this failure, which are fairly clear: (1) BlackBerry has an extremely weak consumer sales support team and no direct sales funnel and (2) BlackBerry 10 didn't strongly differentiate itself from the competition in a way that appealed to its market. Chen is wise in the short term to focus on selling to enterprise in the United States because that's basically a way of saying, "we need a team to upgrade our existing customers and most people in the US who are BlackBerry users are people who carry one for work these days." I'm actually shocked that everyone is mad at Boulben for not running a billion dollars in advertising, when the guy who really dropped the ball at BlackBerry was the U.S. sales manager, who apparently felt that doing nothing was the best way to launch a new platform in an era where increasingly carrier sales people and IT professionals don't really understand BlackBerry and have strong relationships with a strong team of reps from Apple and other consumer electronics firms. I'm not disagreeing with Chen's short term focus; it's a maxim that it's easier to sell to existing customers who you understand, have open channels with, and who understand and probably support you with at least some goodwill. But, I do not hear Chen talking about building a real sales force with real carrier reps in the United States. And I don't hear him talking about building a Bose-style direct sales funnel, so as to escape dependency on carriers and stake out high-end marketshare. To me that sounds like Chen is abandoning consumer device sales in the United States and the other first world countries that are influenced by its preferences -- no matter how much he insists otherwise. And that would be sad, but understandable if the winner(s) of the consumer device platform struggle weren't so clearly going to be the winners of the future of mobile computing and, maybe even the future of computing in general. There's not a lot of opportunity to compete for this huge prize, much of that opportunity has been squandered in the last couple of years and by delays in introducing the new platform, but there is still much more opportunity than there will be in 2015 or 2016. By the time Chen returns BlackBerry to profitability by focusing on small, surer wins, he'll have given up the opportunity to win big. Heck, BlackBerry was very nearly profitable under Thor for a quarter or two and with a decent sales effort BlackBerry would have sold those extra devices Thor ordered. Look, I'm not as big a fan of the efficacy of mass-media advertising as everyone else, but I do like reps building interpersonal relationships with bloggers, influencers, carrier sales reps, and I insist on direct sales to existing customers via email, BBM, and every channel legally permissible. BlackBerry did not follow-through what seemed like a somewhat promising initial launch and I was hoping the new CEO might try to do so...

How much would a major campaign to promote blackberry cost in the US. Although I think it would have broke the bank on top of the Z10 loss, it's true much more effort should have been made. Super bowl just wasn't enough. And the adds in the UK wasn't even worth talking about.

Posted via CB10

I can't remember the last time I saw a BlackBerry add. Well I stopped watching TV 3 years ago. All the stuff I do now is on my mobile, checking out news on the way and back from work.

Naturally spending an hour or so a day on Crackberry too.

Posted via CB10 from my Z10.

I'm not to dissimilar. Must admit I've been reading crackberry for a few years but over the last 6 months I've felt the need to show my support by joining in the forums. Amazing how you can a real attachment to a little piece of plastic, metal,glass, and silicone lol

Posted via CB10

Tris77, I'm not sure how much a major advertising campaign would have cost in the US, but, aside from brand awareness, I can't be sure it would have returned on it's investment. I saw a *lot* of advertising on the West Coast around the LA area, but almost no BlackBerry 10 devices in the wild and I saw an almost non-existent sales effort. I visited dozens of carrier stores -- most of them corporate -- and talked with dozens and dozens of sales people and not one of the could name their BlackBerry rep for me. Almost all of them could name the Apple rep. It seems like Verizon did some internal training of their own, but I could find no evidence that AT&T did anything pre-launch. At my local store, the Z10 wasn't even on the floor on launch day and no one had been trained. Frankly, to this day, the bulk of people working in carrier stores have no idea why anyone would want to buy a BB10 device and they have good reason and plenty of incentives to steer them towards other devices if they express any uncertainty. Now, this tragedy might have been understandable if BlackBerry had built a good direct sales effort, with emails to existing customers and a web-based funnel for purchased directly from BlackBerry, but the non-effort with US carriers was the exclusive effort made in support of BB10. That's just sad. At the minimum, I should have been hearing from salespeople about how Verizon or AT&T is going to send them on a trip to Hawaii -- through a BB program -- after they've sold their 100th BB10 phone. BlackBerry was starting from a serious disadvantage having not really launched a new device in an era with consumer electronics companies redefining how phones are sold.

And, yes, I understand that Apple invested substantially in Apple Stores and their retail game and partnerships are just awesome these days. I would say Apple could cease all mass-media advertising -- they don't do nearly as much as they used to in many markets -- and barely feel a hit because their direct sales efforts and partnerships are that strong. But, ten years ago the company was legendarily bad at sales, so nothing is given. I'm not saying that BlackBerry had to match Apple's multi-billion investment in retail channels, but they should have at least made an effort. And, while Chen is correct to rebuild the enterprise sales force, he just really shouldn't neglect the overall sales effort. BB10 is exponentially better than the effort to sell it and that is sad.

I should note -- in defense of Chen -- that the other article (posted by the excellent former Palm/WebOS editor) features a quote from Chen directly acknowledging my concern: "“I do understand why and how it happened, I'll let that speak for itself. … When I go after the consumer through these stores again, it's not going to happen the same way again. When I'm ready to make that move, we're going to have another conversation.”

It really does boil down to the correct people doing the correct job within blackberry. Repping to carrier's is key. The same has happened in the UK. Go into a shop and ask an assistant about bb10 devices..... trust me they go dumb. nobody understands them. I know this from when I bought my Q10.

Posted via CB10

Not a Vodafone. I've noticed a consistent awareness and knowledge base amongst staff in a number of shops about the Z10 and Q10. This was when I was planning to buy one or the other about 3 months ago, and subsequent to that, when I had aftercare questions or issues.

Posted by the inimitable Z10 handheld system

BB doesn't have anywhere close to the kind of money it would take to do what you are suggesting. They've had to borrow $1.25B (that's billion with a B) just to survive the last few months, and now they're paying interest on that, and the annual interest is more than what the entire QNX division's revenues are, just for some perspective.

Yes, it would be great to be ABLE to do what you suggest, but BB is in a fight for its very SURVIVAL, and without the money it just borrowed, it would have been on death's door if not bankrupt. They burned through more than $1.1B in cash in the last quarter alone.

Chen at least appears to be making the right decisions. They are tough decisions to have to make, and I'm sure he wishes BB was in a position to make more desirable choices, but he has to do the best he can with what he's got.

Chen talks well, but it remains to be seen if BB can execute, as that's been BB's single biggest area of failure for the last half-dozen years.

BlackBerry was still in the black as far as cash reserves other than the invesment...... but yes. it is all about waiting now to see how this plays out with foxconn. I think this Is the relationship that will make or break BlackBerry

Posted via CB10

Or is Chen just acknowledging that what currently differentiates BBRY and BB 10 might appeal only (or mostly) to enterprises, heavily regulated, and highly secure organizations? Great post.

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

Yep sounds spot on and here in ZA MTN seems to be one of those carriers dropping BlackBerry, they have a huge footprint in the emerging markets so I'm very concerned.

Posted from my awesome HUB enabled  Z10

Two Important Observations from having lunch with BlackBerry CEO, John Chen:
1- when Chen knows you bought a "champagne" iphone 5S, he doesn't seem upset and precisely notices that you can be an iphone AND a blackberry user (because he knows you spent a lot on Z10 Porsche design to apology).
2- don't expect him to pay the bill, but it could be worst: Steve Jobs would never have a lunch with you and Steve Ballmer would have dropped your iphone on the floor. :)

I was wondering, too. How accessible he is to his loyal fan base. Great!

My name is Prem, I'm using BBM ... from my QuZe10 ...whatarhyme...

Will BlackBerry be updating z10,q10,5,z30 in the future (couple of years time) or are they just ignore them. I mean as time goes on, they can always keep on improving the battery life, optimising the software to get rid of laginess in browsers and when minimising while watching videos/youtube, etc.

Posted via CB10

Great read. When you mentioned applying for a job at Blackberry, I not only think it would be a great idea if you worked there but I myself think of it as a dreamjob.

All I want to know is will I have a new Z10 to upgrade to with a better screen and faster processor??

Posted via CB10

As a PlayBook owner I always questioned BlackBerry's marketing of their tablet.

The hardware felt right. It worked well. But as we all learned it lacked a few essential apps.

In hind sight - IMO - BlackBerry should have gone after the courier companies and the medical field (for examples) - with some strong marketing and some great, customized tablet apps / software.

I find BlackBerry software such as Story Maker, Express and Travel are excellent pieces of software. (I presume the software was written by BlackBerry).

Maybe bb10 app writers need to focus their attention on the niche markets to get the phones into circulation?

In closing the PlayBook did serve as a great proving ground for bb10. For this I am grateful.

I still use my PlayBook to watch movies on the road - so all is not lost.

Thxs Kevin for chasing down JC.

Posted via CB with the Zthirty STA100-5/10.2.1.1925

Haha loved that "firing a machine gun" line. Let me tell join you guys by also saying how much of love my Z10. I'm currently trying to get a Z30 and have been trying to sell my Z10 and I have had so many offers in exchange and Ahhhh I just can't let go of it. People have offered me an iPhone 5,ps3 with lots of games, had thus guys offer me a tablet with a BlackBerry 9320. And I'm just not convinced I just can't see myself going 2 weeks without this awesome phone I can't see myself using another UI with another keyboard I believe the keyboard is the only reason I can't let it go just like that. But I will one day when I get my Z30 I want other people to know how great BlackBerry did with this new OS and keyboard there I go again mentioning the keyboard hahaha.

Posted via CB10

Hi from ecuador
Mr kevin, i see J C gave you the opportunity to ask him a lot of questions , as pay forward pls reply me some questions ..i have some 4 you too..
Did you ask about for z50 ?
* about just concentrate in business target- what about young people that just the trend phone?
* what about, being a complete package.
What about instagram- Netflix - etc.
* more support 4 developers.
* about a flag ship with all the toys in hardware & more innovative software, more bb10
*a strategy to make all bbos7 new user etc.
* how he is going to make the world know , this one its for yesterday...

You have the opportunity, did you fell like like you make all the right questions , to Chen?

I like your post but, i have a bigger expectations about a such opportunity like that one...
Congratulations & happy new year

@bblatino
Pin:24EDF9F6

Posted via CB10

And no where did anyone mention to Chen, that people want another tablet. And full bridge capabilities for BB10, and so on.

Great job there Crackberry.com

Maybe next time right? I won't hold my breath....

Posted Via Z10

It's over.
BlackBerry phones has no appeal anymore. They fired their last bullet with a very bad Os 10 launch, which is a pity because this is a great software. Maybe BBM Inc. maybe, very likely QNX on automobiles and vehicles, but no more smartphone business will save their assets.

The fact is former RIM did stop by watching itself in the mirror for too long.

I am an hardcore, very disappointed BlackBerry user.

Me?! I keep movin'!

Great article. I really hope BlackBerry gets through this difficult period! Chen is an amazing ceo to be honest!

C0038297E Quote of the Day (BBM Channel)

It's not enough......BlackBerry needs to use subliminal messages to revamp the brand.

Flash BBM and BB10 messages everywhere. Donate money towards colleges in the US to place ads in the college newspapers. This is the generation you need to target as well as Government and business.

Outsource the merchandising contract so with every BlackBerry 10 device you get t-shirts. There needs to be more direct sales no more pop up stores offering a voucher trade in of BBOS7 for BlackBerry 10 devices . This is easy and you bypass the carriers. You have a bucket load of unused devices already written down,

Posted via CB10

Never read so much brown nosing. And jealousy for the other reporter. You would think this guy is a god. This was a fan club interview, not a professional journalist challenging the man at the head of a company which is struggling to say the least.

Posted via CB10

John Chen is the best thing to happen to BlackBerry in 2014. I am a BlackBerry loyalist since 2008 and has not and will never switch to any mobile phone.

Posted via CB10

Blah blah blah, actions speak louder than words! Machine gun, lots of Bullets? Then it would be smart of them to let us all know where those bullets are to be fired, in case we are on the fence and ready to leave! this one at a time thing and leaks of maybe devices is useless.

Give us the road map Chen, then we can decide. Once given do the road map in a timely fashion. I truly believe this is the last hurrah for BB!

Kevin,
I'm curious if you could summarize in a nutshell what loyal BlackBerry users want. I'm no expert, but it doesn't seem to me that if we tool a poll, there would be overwhelmingly unified responses.
For example, there seems to be an identifiable group that longs for the return of a track pad and buttons, whereas a lot of people say that they are no longer necessary with BB10.
Another group has been begging for a slider phone that offers both a large screen surface and a good, well-spaced keyboard. However, when they raise this issue, there are plenty of other BlackBerry fans who claim that nobody would want or buy a slider, because they would be too thick.
Then there's the tablet discussion. Some want one, while others think the dummy tablet that got floated a while back was a good idea. Others would like a hybrid device that's a BlackBerry equivalent of a Chromebook.
About the only consistent message is that users want to see more apps.
So ... What exactly was it that you communicated that BlackBerry loyalists really want?

Agree and most importantly, are the age groups. Being older, apps and games are of no concern to me as are handling, screen and text size and volume!

Just to name a few!

Nice article. I wish Mr. Chen the best!

Mr. Chen, if you see this comment, here is one small thing you could do to immediately make me, a Blackberry Z10 owner in America, happy: get Verizon to release 10.2 for my phone. I am still waiting for the update as there are a few issues with the current system that are annoying.

Thank you and good luck!

"BBM 2.0 which will soon land on iOS, Android ..."
No doubt it'll be on iOS and Android before it gets to AT&T Z10.

The only thing I want to hear is a better marketing strategy for Latam. I'm sick and tired of being looked at like I'm a freak every time I go to get a BlackBerry for me or my family.

Posted via CB10

I think what concerns me the most is no answers about the US consumer/prosumer market. Sure, there is no carrier support, but if the concentration is on enterprise, and that could include BYOD, there isn't any sales push to get BB10 devices into BYOD hands.

How does ignoring the consumer space change market perception in the USA? How does taking devices out of carrier stores sell to the prosumer market? It becomes a difficult challenge when carriers don't sell devices, don't market devices, and don't even have links to direct purchasing BlackBerry devices. Instead, it gives false support to sales staff saying "BlackBerry is dead."