Here’s why I welcome the big changes announced at BlackBerry today

Mobile Nations' resident analyst Chris Umiastowski on why he thinks today's C-Level cuts could bode well for BlackBerry's future

By Chris Umiastowski on 25 Nov 2013 04:03 pm EST
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Wow. John Chen sure moves fast. He was appointed interim CEO of BlackBerry recently, and we’re already seeing significant changes at the executive and board room level. The company has announced the departure of its CMO, COO and CFO along with the resignation of board member Roger Martin.

These changes are bittersweet. After the end of the Jim and Mike regime, the company’s C-level suite opened its arms to the CrackBerry community, which we think was helpful. We hope this doesn’t change. But we realize change had to happen, and I’m personally someone who welcomes today’s news.

The biggest reason I say this is because strong CEOs usually make big changes early on, and so far Chen strikes me as a strong CEO. If he’d sat around making only minor changes within the company how could we expect anything to be different?

Let’s go through the changes one by one.

First up we have Frank Boulben, former chief marketing officer. Most people I’ve spoken to don’t feel the company’s BB10 marketing activities were strong enough. And it’s possible that Boulben’s hands were tied in some ways. Perhaps there was a much bigger planned follow-up beyond the Super Bowl commercial, but it’s possible the company decided to hold back on spending in the face of overwhelming evidence of weak demand for devices given their current feature set and value proposition to consumers.

Still, I feel Boulben didn’t disrupt the company’s marketing problems nearly enough. Marketing is not just about commercials. In the words of Seth Godin, everything is marketing, and I’d really like to see someone who fully embraces this be given the next CMO title. It doesn’t take a lot of money to ensure that your customers have an easy way to see all the great new features that come in a major OS release, yet BlackBerry practically released these updates as if there was nothing worth talking about. As much as we appreciated Frank for understanding our mission at CrackBerry, were also looking forward to seeing what some fresh blood can do in this role.

Still, I feel Boulben didn’t disrupt the company’s marketing problems nearly enough. Marketing is not just about commercials

Next let’s discuss Kristian Tear, the company’s most recent chief operating officer. He inherited a complex business, and certainly didn’t have an easy job. That said, supply chain was something he was responsible for, and there is no dancing around the issue of a billion dollar write down on Z10 inventory. If there is someone likely to take the blame for this charge, it’s him. That said, we don’t know who really made the call to build such a huge volume of Z10 product. Perhaps Thorsten Heins was a big factor in this decision. We’ll likely never know. But it’s not surprising to see a COO transition following this kind of mistake. It’s also possible that Chen believes he needs a COO with more software experience. Remember that Chen did say he thinks the company needs a permanent CEO with more software experience, who why stop there? Why not make sure the entire C-level suite has the necessary experience?

What about Brian Bidulka, the company’s long-standing CFO?  I’m only guessing here, but I think he probably made his own decision to step away from the company. If he’d been asked to step down I don’t think we’d see him stay on as a special advisor to the CEO, nor do I think his replacement would be a more junior executive from within Bidulka’s finance organization. Besides, while I saw room for improvement in the investor relations aspect of his job, I don’t think it was important to replace him right now.

But as long as Bidulka’s leaving, I would have preferred to see an outsider come into the CFO chair.  In my opinion, the company’s best CFO was Dennis Kavelman, who had to step down due to a stock options backdating scandal many years ago.  At that time, Bidulka was appointed Chief Accounting Officer, and he didn’t really participate in investor relations (IR). Most pros who know the story will agree that IR at BlackBerry went downhill after Kavelman left.  That’s why I’d like to see the company bring in fresh blood, not promote from within. Anyone who worked in the current financial organization is, I think, less likely to deviate from the status quo too much.

That’s why I’d like to see the company bring in fresh blood, not promote from within

What about Roger Martin resigning from the board? Again, I welcome this change. Martin was brought onto the board by Jim Balsillie, in the aftermath of the stock option backdating scandal.  In all likelihood, Balsillie hoped Martin would help rebuild the company’s credibility on governance issues. But today corporate governance is hardly at the top of the list of issues facing BlackBerry.  Besides, this is the man who was quoted in the media as saying, in regards to a possible CEO transition, “So we’re supposed to hand it over to children, or morons from the outside who will destroy the company?” It doesn’t surprise me that John Chen wouldn’t take kindly to the idea of Martin thinking of him as a “moron from the outside”.

I don’t think you’ll find anyone arguing with the suggestion that BlackBerry’s board needs more bench strength in actually running a technology company.

Topics: BBRY Editorial

Reader comments

Here’s why I welcome the big changes announced at BlackBerry today

201 Comments

+ 1,000,000.

BlackBerry definitely needs new fresh blood coming from outside the company to help revive it and John Chen definitely seems like a good choice as of now I hope.

Had no idea who he was until being appointed as the new interim CEO but his previous experience speaks for itself.

Still retail shelves with dummy Z10/Z30/Q10, and actual devices hidden away *NOT* charged up, meaning folks cannot try out the BB10 experience on the actual device!
No wonder sales are bad !

Really hope Mr. Chen reads this; the marketing and sales problems extend right down to the local BlackBerry office levels all over the world.

Missing the Management by Walking About (aka surprise Market Visits).

It's been widely reported on this CrackBerry site for *months*, but nothing was corrected by local BlackBerry offices. CrackBerry fans reported this in European cities, and local Asian Cities also.

^ actually I pray they get RID of the static start up tutorial or at least let experienced users dismiss it at any point. You know how annoying it is to install a new BB10 OS from scratch or migrate to another ONLY to find you're forced to go through this STUPID tutorial ... worse if you don't have a valid SIM card with an active line and no wifi immediatley. Sometimes you're travelling and just need to load your device. WORSE is you cannot restore your BB10 backup UNTIL BBLink can recognize the device has PASSED the tutorial ... absolutely ASININE!!!

Nah, mate. You only perform the tutorial once...the first time the OS is started up.

We are loading leaked OS' so every time we install it, it is the first time again.

It doesn't happen with in-place updates.

The situation was never meant to be us installing leaks, merely doing in-place updates.

Posted via CB10

"Really hope Mr. Chen reads this"

Of course Mr Chen knows about these issues. As did the previous management.

How exactly do you make Verizon or AT&T or whoever do anything about it?

That IS BlackBerrys problem. It's the reason they're in a mess. Because the carriers will not support BlackBerry.

I'm pretty sure it's not because BlackBerry hasn't been trying to fix it.

The only way they can fix it is by significantly reducing the cost of their phones. That process is obviously underway.

Hi br14,

We referring to the Retail Stores that refuses to charge up the BB10 devices.
We are not talking about the telecom carriers, which is another set of problems which is already well known.

Local BlackBerry office marketing and/or sales senior officials are *not* doing any visits to leading Retail Stores at all. If they did, they would have realized that Retail Stores that refuses to charge up the BB10 devices.

No charged up BB10 devices almost guarantee no BB10 sales from Retail Stores.

The best remedy for the poor vendor displays and derelict sales practices is to reopen BlackBerry stores.

I completely agree. I'd love to see a blackberry store, somewhere not just to test and buy new devices, but where someone can go to get their current devices fixes as well.

in Thailand South East Asia, no store have Blackberry 10 devices in their store right now. No Accessory, no case, no film protection. A lot of people never knew BlackBerry still exist. I am no exaggerating. Is true!!!! I have to buy my Q10 in the second hand market.

Posted via CB10

Roger Martin also resigned from the Board. Rejoice! Rejoice!

Now.. go back to your B school and start using your piss poor governance as a business case for your MBA students Roger! Poor students at Rotmans School of Management...

Posted via CB10

He couldn't have been that bad, as he was A.G. Lafley's strategic partner in rebuilding P&G throughout most of the last decade. Besides, he was a non-executive board member, was he not? He probably couldn't have impacted the ops or the bottomline much.

You may be right. Chen probably wanted him gone cos he did so much right as a BoD member and today's news was more of a reward for that great work.

Posted via CB10

I don't need these changes are enough. They have to wipe almost everyone on the top positions, they are all old.

The real question for me is this - why in both of the press releases that Chen has put out so far he avoids any mention of BB10 being an important asset, in fact he doesn't mention BB10 at all. Once could be a odd oversight, twice? unlikely.

As I just alluded to in the other thread. If you continue to support making devices and BES 10, it's redundant to say BB10 since BES 10 only runs BB10 devices. Maybe, as someone else pointed out, BB10 is not very exciting and he'll leave that for the future to decide what they are called but as it stands now, OS7 devices do not run on BES 10 so it can only mean BB10 devices. (i.e. OS 7 devices must run on a BES 5)

BES 10.1 which he would be referring to runs all devices BB10, BB7, iOS and Droid.

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

Unfortunately it does not. A BES 5 server is still required to run OS 7 devices. It may now reside on the same server but it is still required.

Yea it is misleading; you can MANAGE all your devices from the one server but you need a BES5 server to do the activations and actually host the devices.

Just speculation but I'd like to think when we are talking about BlackBerry we are talking about BB10. Legacy OS should be phased out as long as they continue to bring legacy functionality to BB10. That could include special BIS/BES type services for small business operators (Balance for the little guys). I for one don't want to hear anymore of BBOS. Going forward BlackBerry is BlackBerry10.

Agreed something is afoot. I think we may get a surprised shocker here, like Android-berries skinned like BB10 with a Hub etc.

Also, did you notice he hinted company's cash position remained strong? I wonder how large a write down is coming from Q5/Q10s? another Billion blown away?

They did already Thor 2 the dark world...I liked it, but I really think the hulk should of made an appearance :)

From my amazing Z10

Quite interesting. Not a bad move. Lots of people pulling salaries that basically do nothing and kill bottom lines, adding zero value. Go Chen!

I believe they said only one is being replaced; but they did not say that it was being eliminated. It could be that they just have not determined or hired the replacement yet. Most likely working with someone negotiating a contract. Many reporters read into the not replaced as an elimination. But reporting these days is abysmal, they are mostly opinion based articles with no factual content. If I wanted blog content I would go to a blog; like crackberry! lol

Hmm... The press release doesn't say these positions have been eliminated. I checked out the link you gave me. I'm not sure if that's the journalist's opinion or something the BlackBerry communicated in the interview. If I made a mistake I'll own it. that's fine. Anyone got another link to back this up?

" And spokesman Adam Emery said the company will have a further update on its leadership team Dec. 20. Emery said they will not have a chief marketing officer and a chief operating officer in its new organization structure."

http://shar.es/D3JBl

For a Company whose CEO has avoided talking about BB10 as an asset, the consumer side could well be an afterthought at best from now on.

I think BlackBerry see their future as enterprise and SaaS (software as a service) so maybe consumer days are over.

Posted via CB10

Just caught BNN now and they reported only one of those three positions will be replaced.

COO and CMO not being replaced

Very interesting eliminating the CMO position if true, think that could mean a more dramatic shift to software and away from consumer devices then we realize.

Or could just mean they're going to outsource marketing, IF they're going to remain in the consumer spectrum.

CTV also reporting COO and CEO not being replaced...

"...BlackBerry spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger confirmed that both of the executive positions will not be filled..."

Posted via CB10

Strength: Tons of BBOS users still using their devices
Weakness: BB10 isn't as popular as it should have been; Lots of unsold Z10s
Opportunity: Tons of BBOS users are looking to switch phones...
Threat: ...but they may go away from Blackberry

Conclusions: Get the Z10s in the hands of BBOS users asap whatever it takes.

I know at least two people personally (who I've asked) about their BBOS devices. Neither is considering going BlackBerry. Would a device exchange + upgrade cost of $25 change their minds? Hmmm...

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry would be better off seeding Corporate customers with Z10's. The Corporate customer would buy BES 10 licenses for the Z10's and this would generate ongoing revenue for BlackBerry.

Upgrading Consumers will only create a deficit, as BlackBerry would be selling the Z10 at a loss /and/ losing an ongoing subscriber to BBOS7.

They already made the loss on the Z10, they wrote the unsold inventory down to the tune of a billion dollars. Anything they can sell them for now can be shown as profit, getting them in to the hands of consumers for next to nothing is not a bad idea as BlackBerry World purchases bring in some ongoing revenue. You have to buy all those BBOS app equivalents in BB10 form all over again.

Giving them away to corporate users might have the upside if $19 a year for a BES10 CAL but then again they might just put them on ActiveSync for email and PIM and pay BlackBerry nothing. BES10's biggest problem is that Enterprise has been putting other BYOD and multi platform MDM solutions in years before BES10 launched as BlackBerry usage nose dived.

Posted via CB10

Meant to add that getting the Z10s in to the hands of BBOS consumers will have a better marketing side effect than the hands of Corporates as word of mouth will go round about how good BB10 is compared to their old BBOS phone.

Corporate users don't wax lyrical about how great their work phone is usually because they are locked down so much to stop data leakage making them an unfun device.

Posted via CB10

Seeding Corporations doesn't mean giving them away for free, just at a discount, like what was suggested to BBOS7 users.

Consumers raving about how great BB10 phones are won't tell Corporate whether the phone is good for enterprise, only whether it works as a phone and can run fun apps. Corporate managers need to see the phones run on BES 10 and the security they get.

The problem is some of those BBOS apps don't have BB10 equivalents. Some of those apps were important to some of us. So much so that when we (read me) upgraded in March, we had to leave BB. :(

Podcast topics : Marketing Marketing and more Marketing !! The Z30 + 10.2.1 OS is the true BlackBerry 10 Phone experience !!
If we can fast track a super spec Q30 with a virtual track pad where the user can toggle On/Off the track Pad that would be Super Great ... $$ Kevin really liked your polished Z10 and Q10 Demo videos with White background , clean polished awesome !!

Funny though, the media focuses on Chen as an interim CEO. The whole idea is, there is no time to waste in making moves
We are not talking about next quarter earnings or the next couple of quarters. There is cash on hand to retrench, refocus on Enterprise and stabilize cash flow. If that can be done then bring on another CEO. Right now I don't know of too many that would take a chance on the job. They really do need to hire some public relations people though. Get some news flowing. BlackBerry has been insular for too long and will not survive with the present corporate structure intact. BB10 is much better now, license it to two others, minimize cost of manufacturing and move forward in the Enterprise space. They may not announce an exit of the consumer business but the writing is clear that they are out....until they build up Enterprise. God knows what they will do with BBM but if they can increase penersation at minimal cost and add voice and video, then they have something. At least Chen recognizes the need to take action!! Screw the media and their negative focus!!!

Posted via CB10

Prem is calling all the shots,he thinks Chen is the man for the job ,he is a heavy weight,they see eye to eye.Time to let the Big boys take care of BB and that's all they need.No more yuppies,time for Real business people to take Charge.

OK this just happened. My sons girl friend, who just bought another iPhone, the coloured cheaper model says.....Oh, did you get a new phone? I said yes.....what phone is that. I said it's the BlackBerry z30. She says, "BlackBerry has a new phone? I never see any advertisements. Why don't they advertise?". I think that just says it all period.

Posted via CB10

Doesn't surprise me - I've had so many people ask me what phone I'm using and when I say it's a blackberry Z10 they say ' I didn't know Blackberry made a touch screen phone'....it's been out for 9 months now!

Posted via CB10

The problem is deeper than that, BlackBerry have been making all touch screen phones since 2008 but nobody knows!

The over reliance on the shrinking physical keyboard market has been their downfall. It took them over 4 years to make a good all touch phone because of the sea of mediocre physical keyboard phones they were also working on.

Posted via CB10

Well, it's why they released the Z10 first. Wanted to challenge/overturn stereotypes. Some people (including, apparently, Mike L) thought this was the wrong decision and the Q10 should have launched first. But we all know the reviews would have whined about the screen size and ended with: Bottom line, unless you already own a BlackBerry and like it, you shouldn't upgrade.

The company's failure to properly market the Z10 and BB10 is incredibly sad.

They just had to release both the Z10 and Q10 with the 10.1MR OS at the minimum plus do an AD comparing the old BBOS vs BB10. Maybe postpone the release to March 2013, but that Z10 with that un-polished OS was a dead wrong. Today my Z10/Z30 with the current 10.2.0.429 OS is such a great polished phone add the new 10.2.1 OS with Google APK downloads will be awesome !!

Honestly, I blame BlackBerry's obstinacy to ditch physical keyboards for their current state (along with mismanagement.) Virtually nobody wants a physical keyboard these days. They've had touch devices with larger screens since 2008, yet a disproportionate amount of what little advertising they have is dedicated to their keyboard devices with their tiny screens. Who in their right mind is going to see that and say, "Yes! I want a tiny little screen in the world of ever larger touch screens!" And it's the vocal minority of BlackBerry users that whine and moan that they'll die without a physical keyboard that is giving the company a bad image. They're old-fashioned in their thinking and it makes BlackBerry as a whole seem old-fashioned. I like physical keyboards, but I've never been a fan of BlackBerry's physical keyboard. It's too cramped and too cumbersome to me. Just let it go already and get with the times! When people think BlackBerry, they think small screen and physical keyboard; two things that virtually nobody wants. How hard is that to realize???

+1000 I have lost count of how many people have looked at my Z10, gotten a puzzled look and asked, "Is that an iPhone?" They somehow know it isn't but can't figure out what it is. BB needed to make people aware. The carrier staff were the worst -- they would tell me (or others within earshot) not to buy a BlackBerry, that they were "going out of business". BB needs to do what they are doing now -- making phones available online for people who want them and letting people know that they have new, awesome phones!!!

I get the same question from people who know I'm a diehard BlackBerry user when they see me using the Z10 - "Is that an iPhone you're finally using?"

My usual response is "Yes! It's the new iPhone 9...code named BlackBerry 10!"

Same thing happened to me over the weekend... Shaking my head. Had to enlighten five friends I hadn't seen in years that not only is BlackBerry alive and kicking, and but the Z10 is better than anything else out there on the market and does things that the iPhone can even dream about, and is safer and more secure than any Android out there.

I don't know if I made any converts, but I at least spread the word of the BlackBerry.

I've been using BB for almost a decade and if it weren't for CB, I'd never know the Z30 was a thing let alone it's availability.

How about some stickers to start! I haven't seen anything that shows BlackBerry is even still in biz.
My outlaws (inlaws) have apple stickers on both of their cars, I can't even get my hands on BlackBerry stickers without having to look on Ebay for a second hand dealer.

Posted via CB10

Whenever I tell people about my Z30 they say similar things like they haven't heard of it or they say it looks cool but"isn't that company going out of business?" Obviously this is the companies biggest problem.

Posted via CB10

Apparently they have already paid her a like sum. They could have been asking her to do many more promotional events without costing them anymore money.

But Boulben didn't see fit to utilize that investment! It is just wasting away.

(Not that I think it was a good idea to hire her in the first place, but if they have already signed the check, then why not squeeze as much value as they can from it? )

Posted via CB10

Is it possible to go to the direct model of sales like Dell? Advertise advertise advertise and drive traffic to your website to purchase. No risk 30 days trial period. Develop a direct relationship with the customer, be they corporate, or consumer.

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

That would be sweet. You summed up the principles of Claude Hopkins very well. Has no one at blackberry read scientific advertising? What a shame.

I have never actually tried blackberries, but I won't be surprised if they taste the best

"That said, we don’t know who really made the call to build such a huge volume of Z10 product."

In late 2012, my company was asked by BlackBerry how many Z10 we expected to purchase in 2013. I can tell you that I was not the only person that received that email and my estimates were (luckily) spot on. Who knows what message or high number BlackBerry received from other large corporations.

Estimates gone bad.

Posted via CB10

There are rumours that it was done to inflate the stock price since all the analysts ended up getting info from suppliers about increased z10 production volume and interpreted that as higher demand.

Posted via CB10

Someone has to reach out to Prem,ask about what he thinks BB has to do.Chen was the first step,now we want to know where BB is going,CHINA? Will the Next ER take advantage of this unknown partnership,LENOVA?

The name is Lenovo*

If you looked at all the passed news the canadian government said don't even bother bidding because we won't allow it.

So no...

Posted via CB10

"“So we’re supposed to hand it over to children, or morons from the outside who will destroy the company?”"

I think Martin had a specific individual in mind when referring to morons who would destroy the company. And it wasn't John Chen.

The truth is most people have no idea what is required to market and sell cell phones. It's not all about fancy TV ads. Oddly enough the people to whom BlackBerry sell are more likely to buy fancy TV ads rather than watch them.

Not that a few fancy TV ads wouldn't be useful, but you first have to have a way of selling the phones. And at least in the US BlackBerry doesn't have that - unless you want to pay full price over the internet.

Even in it's native Canada, Rogers will not sell you a Z30 in store. For that all Canadians should switch to another carrier.

I came back to BlackBerry because of the Z10 and I am in love with it. But BlackBerry just needs to push os10 more than they do

BBZ10

Did anybody notice when they updated to10.2.0.429 there was an android option available and the next time you checked out BBLink it was gone,Big things coming we just don't know about them but they are going to happen.

Marketing at the senior level has to be replaced.
Placing an ad on the super bowl is good but there was a lot not happening.

I think BlackBerry has a great opportunity right now. Yes, with the current hand sets. I use my BlackBerry mostly for business and have no problem with apps. OK, not being able to read RTF files is a problem.

This is a software issue. The hardware works with a few minor tweaks.
We need marketing.

Updates to software: no coverage
Updates to Hardware : no coverage
Major sales (Germany): no coverage

Use the apple example.
Pizazz and sizzle.

Posted via CB10

Please make these phones readily available . I live in the states and It feels like I work for the circus it is amazing how many hoops I have to jump thru to buy a blackberry phone on site. I still don't understand why I still can't buy direct? If none of the retailers want to sell it fine, but for it not to be offered in any form is upsetting. Prime examples, z30 Verizon exclusively really?, Tmobile no z30 in sight still maybe next year? Sprint the q10 only seems like they are under pressure to keep these phones off the market. Still not understanding why there is so much resistance for a place that stands by their "free market" I guess this rule only apply when convenient

Posted via CB10

You can buy them at shopblackberry.com in North America. GSM only though. Z10's are $399 and Q10's are $549 -- both unlocked, black and white.

Damn way off topic, changes are constant it almost sounds like it will be time to invest in blackberry again

Posted via CB10

I fully support these changes and would like to see even more management and staffing shake-ups. BlackBerry has amazing products but dismal launch execution. They need an all new way of approaching their problems and people who think bigger and more aggressively as nothing short of exceptional ideas will work at this point. Fix the brand perception problem first, which doesn't necessarily mean more advertising - but better advertising that gets people's attention and really explains what BlackBerry stands for that matters to everyday people (Do they even know what that is? Could anyone outside of CrackBerry tell by looking at their ads or lack thereof?) Get PR and Marketing departments that won't pull punches and demonstrate that BlackBerry is listening and quickly working to resolve issues. Show the media that BlackBerry 10 has much more than the press is actively drowning out with stale information.

Agree with Umi's hire from outside philosophy. Its the only way to change the corporate culture which has been a failure for fat too many years.

Let's get the new blood in place and watch how quickly things change.

If the right people are put in place and if they are successful in ditching the old culture we should see positive results fairly quickly. Not that I'm saying a full fledged turn around will happen quickly - it won't - but we should see positive signs within a few months.

Indeed, today's announced C level house cleaning and Heins recent departure are already fairly promising results of the very fresh Chen era.

Posted via CB10

Who is going to be in charge of the device portfolio going forward? Some low-level tech nerd? Or is John Chen sufficiently expert with BlackBerry technology and IP that he will be directing things?

At this point, the device / OS design oversight team is all that matters: if significant change isn't made there, in a strategically and scientifically sound way, what's the point of all this?

We can't wait for the understanding and appreciation of full-gesture UX to slowly filter through the market so users want to use BB10... a lot more has to be done to make the devices and OS accomodating to what users want TODAY: we can't wait for users to come to the mountain, the mountain has to be moved to where they are, like it or not.

Well, they need to do something and although I'm loving my Q10 and it's perfect for me, I'm not sure what the general population wants if they were to choose to buy a BlackBerry product. What's holding people back? Is it marketing, is it apps, is it that the brand is so tarnished, or something else? People seem to either love BlackBerry 10 or hate it, and I suppose the rest just don't understand that it's totally different than all other BlackBerry's before it.

It's either Love BlackBerry or Hate BlackBerry!!!! I think this happen ( Love or hate) because BlackBerry distinguish itself from other so much. Non of your App are compatible like Andriod, and non of your Apps are inter changeable within ur BlackBerry device! Like Apple, 1 Apps can be use in iPad, iPhone, iPod, and same even Mec. I got rid of iphone for Q10 but end up buying iPad and transfer all my iphone App to iPad because is so easy.

I also think it's the accessories and Apps that are killing BlackBerry fast!!! If you can completed with the big boys, than step back and chill BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

Not when fair fax n company dropped a billion into it..

If the company fails won't be from a lack of trying from this point forward.

Personally I'm glad about the recent changes, if nothing changes with those in charge and their implementations, nothing will change at all.

Give it another 1.5 years..

Posted via CB10

I'd like to see a real marketing campaign for a change because BlackBerry deserves nothing less.

This includes either getting Ms. Keys to earn her keep, and help us believe she actually uses a BlackBerry product, or wash our hands of this nonsense once and for all.

One suspects had Apple signed up a major celebrity as their Global Creative Director they would've been far less bashful about it.

Calling Don Draper.

Sent from my BlackBerry Z30

Well ppl aren't going to sit around forever and get shot in the face each time by a tech company. They are too many options out there for the same money.

Compare a z30 to iphone 5s to s4 to Nokia 1020. Would the average consumer really buy a z30? List all the reasons why they wouldn't and you have your answers.

They don't know the phone. They don't like change. They don't know iTunes music can be compatible with bblink. They think blackberry is dying and old. They have an apple eco in their house.

Those are the only reasons I can think of that they wouldn't buy blackberry over iPhone.

For android, they don't know that the specs can't be compared between two different operating systems because the difference in the efficiency and usage of them are different. Camera.

Owner of z30, z10, q10, iPhone 4 and 5, sony xperia z1

Great points, Dream, but "how would they know with Frank B at the helm".... "thankfully" maybe they will find out, but you are not going to accomplish this with counting on reps in the US carriers... these kids left BlackBerry a long time ago.

Whoever takes over marketing..... and I suspect this position may not be "back filled" would have to come up with a completely different approach..

PS... How do you like the Z30? I saw it at VZ, but cannot get one at ATT or TMOB... amazing phone... how do you like it?

Well said. The new CEO really deserves credit. I'm just hoping he will not pull the trigger on BB10, seems like it is highly possible. That would be a disaster as I am allergic to android.

It is great to see BlackBerry progressing with plans to re-brand. BlackBerry 10 is the future.

Perception of BB10 and BES10 are changing at a exponential rate in the correct direction which makes me think that it is time to re-launch BB10 & BES10 again. (My feeling is that BlackBerry knew that BB10 & BES10 were not ready when originally launched but 10.2 is a whole other thing)

- new management might be just what the doctor ordered.

Posted via CB10

These moves are a no Brainer. Anyone stepping in would have to clean house. All of these guys were responsible for the disaster of the BB10 intro, one way or another. You can't follow leaders that walked you off a cliff.

Deciding to kick them out is the easy part. Replacing or restructuring so his vision is followed will be where Chen earns his money.

The only question left is the "Vision". Prem appears to be Chen's puppet master as he holds all the strings and Chen owes him for his 85 million plus stock deal.

Prem is there to protect Fairfax's investment and not necessarily other BlackBerry investors. Things will continue to be interesting in BlackBerry's world.

Posted via CB10

Yeah I don't feel any disappointment here. Boulben and Tear definitely needed to go. Boulben made no positive impact on marketing especially not in the US. I got the super bowl ad. Even kind of liked it. But it was based around the idea that BlackBerry the brand held any weight at all. It does not. That was a big missed opportunity. That fan mockup YouTube commercial would have been infinitely better. And that 1 billion write down was also a huge misstep. Hope Chen handles the next step well.

Posted via CB10

The fan ad offered a storyline of redemption. That's why the hook was so compelling.
The official ad was an intriguing piece. But there was no storyline there. No arc to draw people in. It worked okay for CrackBerry Nation, because we were eagerly anticipating the new product. Our numbers were already dwindling by then. For the average person, the ad was just a curiosity.
Worse still, I think the happy go lucky protagonist in the ad unwittingly spoke to the C suite's complacency. A couple of swipes and all BlackBerry's problems would evaporate. Even the execs didn't get their own tag line.
Mr. Chen is so far acting and sounding like he gets it. I hope I'm right and that he can cobble together a sustainable business model. Once you've got sustainability, you can aim for real growth.

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The change was absolutely necessary...FACT!

The question has to be asked of those who have left or been asked to leave BlackBerry ?

'Exactly who's side are you on? '

Because from where I'm looking it most definitely wasn't BlackBerry's.

If you are in charge of certain departments with responsibilities in the current situation for BlackBerry. I would be fighting tooth and nail for the company. Considering your reputation is on the line.

I just don't think they were fighting for BlackBerry with enough passion and spirit.

I can only speculate that was Mr Chen ' s similar thoughts.

Posted via CB10

Hey Chris - I definitely agree with you regarding Dennis Kavelman. He is the COO at my company now and I've had the pleasure of traveling with him to a client site. Great guy to work with.

Posted from my Z30

The marketing department had its hands tied because they were trying to sell a lemon. For me, for what I need my device to do, and for how I need it to cooperate, BB10 is far inferior to BB7. Nothing...NOTHING in in the user-experience of BB10 is as efficient, as logical, or as clean as BB7. Except for the awesome phone app, and call screen...which they have changed in the latest version of BB10.....how stupid!
The devices aren't the same class as legacy RIM devices either. My q10 feels/functions like a toy compared to my 9930. And Blackberry themselves seem to not take their devices seriously anymore: No desktop charging dock, no included holster, and a host of other stupid cost-cutting decisions that take their devices from "Cadillac" to "Chevette" in a single sweep.
I've been a Blackberry user since 2002. I've owned a Z10 and own a Q10. I respect that my opinion is based on my own personal experience and that there are lots of fans out there who love the new blackberry/OS. And I'm happy for them. I hope more and more people fall in love with the modern Blackberry and that they help restore Blackberry to the prominence it once had. But I'm not the only one who thinks Blackberry has done everything wrong following BB-7/9900.

I like the changes. One problem BlackBerry has in selling bb10's are the sale reps at your carrier. A few friends of mine went to buy bb10's a u have sales reps telling them that they don't want that device
That's been a problem. Carrier's sales reps just changing the minds of consumers.

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Relationships and agreements need made with carriers. Offer free to carrier training for store reps so they have full understanding of BlackBerry. These store reps need to believe and see its a good device. Have a traveling BlackBerry bus to major cities for store employees and general public to walk through at malls and near local Starbucks. For this to work you have to touch the end user, and the relationship you have with the influencer.

Posted via CB10 with Z10

Stocks been green two days now, so in the short term that is all I want to see, as it encompasses what the market thinks of the changes.

Now, let's see big BES numbers, BBM-x popularity explosion and the next flagship BB10 device(s).

Good quick take, Chris. Despite the company's challenges at the time, I felt that their respective roles at BlackBerry were stretches for Boulben and Tear. Both of them left companies that were not in positions of strength within the mobile space, and their respective carrier- and manufacturing-centric backgrounds reflected the "old-guard" mentality.

So, the tougher question is, who would be on your short list for replacements?

There is clearly no passion in the marketing. Fan videos on you tube have done better communicating QNX and Blackberry and the history and the value. Thats the winning formula with some more to be shaked on it. Employees at Blackberry could produce a you tube video that is better that NOTHING coming from management.

Asians and Europeans do not get along...lol. Drastic Cut! But I do agree, BlackBerry needs fresh young blood who can make the right decisions, take on and mitigate risks while meeting strategic objectives. Employees need to accept change and follow through on the processes to meet goals.

BlackBerry number one problem is leadership. any organization without leadership is not team.
No Leadership = NO middle managers = NO work ethic from employees = sinking ship. I do not need to continue....

I think BB relied too heavily upon the likes of CrackBerry and other BlackBerry addicts, evangelists and enthusiasts (http://goo.gl/lXXW9d). Increasingly, it's hard to take the BB crowd seriously, and I'm an empathizer to the plight of not just BB but their following. It was hard for me to leave BB and harder to wait around for that better OS didn't materialize in time enough to save me.

But, the hardest thing to watch are those who are truly and deeply loyal to BB (for all the right reasons) because not matter how much you know/think/feel the latest iteration of BBOS is better than Android, iOS and W8....most people (unfortunately) only hear BB-BS. They think the BlackBerry crowd are kooks for still hanging on.

I don't agree; but nonetheless, I find it harder and hard to defend BB as piece of hardware, as software or as a company. There's a disconnect somewhere and I'm not sure it's something that can be fixed without a drastic departure from the status quo.

I'm still waiting on 10.2 release! Verizon say they don't do the release...what's the deal
?

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Feels like a warrior (Mr. John Chen) has started to fight on behalf of BlackBerry. It's a beginning. He had to start somewhere. Keep it moving Mr. Chen.

After months of talking to guys at work about the z10, finally last week a break through after something as simple as downloading music for free a die hard apple zombie stated in rage "the iPhone is a phone not some mobile computer were we can see our downloads, that's why apple makes so much money we have to buy everything from iTunes, and that was it all others seemed to see the light, so much so that one today told me he had a Z30 in his hand yesterday and it was pretty sweet!!!!! Now it's up to you BlackBerry get that advertising out!!!!!!!!

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I'm Still amazed why Alec Saunders is still with BlackBerry. He should be the first to be fired. This app gap is his fault. Don't you realize that he is partial owner of S4BB. Instead of trying to convince big an medium developers to port their app to BlackBerry app store he was and still busy porting thousands of unnamed apps to app world. So pity and shame.

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C the z10 and q10 should had taken blackberry back in style but they just kept making new phone in stead of working and promote them.

I think the came out whit the phones to fast in stead of them paying attention and take the time to read on here what people want. Just my opinion

Posted via CB10

It's very atypical for an interim CEO to make such sweeping changes and you have to believe the Board is under tremendous pressure to find a means to revitalize the company. With the decision to maintain the company as a public entity the company will continue to attract focus and negative attention from the over-wrought and under-nourished Canadian media. With the almost wholesale removal of the executive the announcements for the replacement executive is another interesting strategy. Expect some positive messaging prior to the Q3 earnings report - perhaps stealing individuals with strong industry profiles from key competitors and parachuting them into key positions. As we all know with BB10, Blackberry poses a serious threat to competitors and it's just a matter of time before the consumer market weans itself away from the iOS nonsense and realizes the potential of the Blackberry product. Stay tuned!

Dougy200,

I saw this once before. The new CEO knew exactly who to target - EXACTLY. The speed of his initial movements was remarkable.

The reason was simply that he was guided by the Board Members who knew the score and had thought long and hard about the necessary changes.

Unfortunately, in my example, the second act wasn't so successful. That is another story.

I hope that Mr. Chen will have the continued success that this first couple of weeks promises. Hard to believe that he officially became Interim CEO only on November 13th.

Posted via CB10

Happy to see big moves early on. Hopefully no more rim-bred middle management rises to the top.

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I definitely have a great idea for a promotions package for BlackBerry. If someone could help me get in touch with BlackBerry to get this information to them, I'd be very grateful!!! My BBM Pin is C00124367

Posted with my BBZ10 Superphone via CB10 app

Chris, I too am pleased, but slightly confused.

Not close enough to the company to see the effects of the COO or CFO, the lack of effect from marketing seems obvious.

How many of John Chen's changes represent the removal of the "old guard"? Several came into RIM at roughly the same time and may have developed a "group think". Certainly, at a recent point in time, THEY were the "new guard". Having developed a uniformity of opinion would be understandable, yet completely without value to the New New CEO.

The consumer-side of me regrets the apparent withdrawal from the consumer marketplace that these changes presage.

The business-side sees the immediate need for Mr. Chen to attack the mindset of the decision makers at Pfizer, for one example, and the Pentagon, for another. The reputation of BlackBerry must be restored as quickly as possible. And if not restored, at least strengthened via understandable, meaningful, realistic business plans that can be shared with, and monitored by, key large customers.

In that light, any effort directed at "consumers" is a distraction,at best. A consumer directed CMO would be a waste. The consumer customer base is lost now, but can be regained given time.

Losing the large-enterprise-customer base currently using BlackBerry devices will be the end, full stop.

Posted via CB10

BBRY may move into more corporate business environment but it does not mean they are going to abandon the consumers. BBRY leaving the consumer space would kill the company by far. Won't happen, not in the short term and not in the long term.
Why, because Apple has made inroads into the corporate space for example, that is the reason.

What this spells out for consumers is better quality built hardware.

I hope that you are right - I love my Q10 because of its high quality.

I'm not sure that "abandon" is the right word. The impression is that BlackBerry is not going to "chase" the consumer market. The BlackBerry devices will be available to you and I - if you know where to look, like the Z30 in the states.

Posted via CB10

The changes are necessary to make way for new ppl w new thoughts/perspectives.

The CFO and board member change are irrelevant for the products and company performance.

The marketing guy is potentially more meaningful, by BBRY doesn't have a marking problem, it has a product problem. Introduce good products and the marketing is easy. With these products, the marketing is impossible. Customers are smart.

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Kevin, in the podcast could you talk about the following:

What is BlackBerry's plan for the US?

Why is the US last to receive OS updates?

If Verizon is the only company to get the Z30, can they confirm that AT&T, T-MOBILE, and Sprint showed no interest?

Are there phones in the pipeline for next year? Are the remaining US companies waiting for these phones?

Will BlackBerry sell all of their phones on BlackBerry.com? I'd rather buy an AT&T network compatible from them instead of my carrier.

Covering any of these topics would be great.

Posted via CB10

What? You can buy the phone off Verizon, then get it activated for AT &T, Sprint, T-Mobile or who ever you choose. Plain and Simple.
I bought my Z30 off Telus, and now using it on BELL. ;)

One can go onto any retailer and see the very obvious intentional lack of interest for BlackBerry products. I have walked into several retailers and asked about the Z 10 and more recently the Z 30. Each time, save for one exception, I was met with comments like, "Blackberry is going out of business" or "all of our customers have returned their BlackBerry devices for an Android or iPhone". The marketing at BlackBerry was abysmal at best.

Posted via CB10

Maybe it's not the best question for this article...but... Do you think BlackBerry will keep supporting Mercedes Formula 1 Team?

I believe many blackberry members became Formula 1 fans thanks to BlackBerry sponsorhip

Talk... talk... talk.... could speculate all you like... all is irrelevant... bottom line is BlackBerry needs to get its USA user base back up substantially... all other countries are mediocre

Kah

Based on what I can see, China currently has the most BB 10 users although BB10 is not officially sold there yet, followed by Canada, U.K., Germany, Middle East, Indonesia, South Africa, U.S. and south America.

If BB really wants to target business the U.S. market is the most critical.

Otherwise ...

Art of war.

Geez, Boulbin gets a Cool 3.2mil. Severance, not bad. Sure don't think he ever broke a sweat, got to live in NYC, fly around aimlessly in a Corporate Jet...............

Hopefully John Chen reads this article and rethinks the CFO position. Even if he doesn't change who is in the role, at least watch them to make sure they are satisfying all of their duties to the best benefit of the company.

That seems to be a good move. Hope Chen can build good team around him.

Posted via the Amazing Q10 10.2.0.415

These guys still got a really attractive severance package -
"Bidulka will get a severance package worth about $3.06 million, based on a company filing in May. Boulben, who was named as marketing chief in May 2012, will receive about $2.27 million, made up of a combination of base pay, benefits, retirement savings and options. Tear, a former executive at Sony Mobile Communications whose hiring was announced the same time as Boulben, will get $1.52 million."

Posted via the awesome keyboard on Z10STL100-1/10.2.1.1055 using CB10 App

Now please remove the chief creative officer - Alicia Keys....

Posted via the awesome keyboard on Z10STL100-1/10.2.1.1055 using CB10 App

I don't know where else to post this comment, but I just had one of my worst experiences with BlackBerry, and it really kills me to say such a thing considering that I spend a lot of time debating and arguing with my friends that BlackBerry is still a competitive smart phone (as they all have iPhones or Samsung and think BlackBerry is out of the market).

BlackBerry needs to start paying attention to small details, details that make us loyal to them. It was these small details that still keep me attached to BlackBerry but when an issue comes up such as the BlackBerry contact application literally messing up all my 500+ contacts, and won't even let me fix it; i.e. everytime I tried to make a fix it just saves something completely different! - this really kills us as loyal fans that still want to go through so much just to have a BlackBerry, but isn't it enough?

With regards to changes made recently in BlackBerry's top level management, I still believe that BlackBerry's strongest asset is their loyal customers and fan base. It is us who will argue and debate on a day to day basis with all friends and family to convince them that BlackBerry is still a great phone; which I have successfully done to convince over 10 friends and family to get BlackBerry's. So invest in this asset and don't let it go - and that asset will grow and will eventually be beneficial to BlackBerry.

Thank you,

Posted via CB10

How about split the write-down inventory right down the middle. Half a billion worth marketed to BBOS users and new consumers. The other half to the corporate user base. In 6 months time, calculate where most of your growth is coming from, focus future marketing in that direction. Problem solved (not really). But, it's a start to a long road to recovery for BlackBerry. I believe BlackBerry will bounce back within a couple years but these people that EXPECT things to happen in the next couple of months are only dreaming. This is a lenghty process to recover from the position they are in, in the marketplace. Chip away at it step by step. We'll get there... eventually. I've done my part to show my friends/family what BlackBerry is all about nowadays and we need more Crackberry people to do the same. My friends were amazed with the devices/and the software (OS).

Not approved by the NSA. My personal Q10

Ppl don't realize that it's not so much the company blackberry but when the mobile and other carriers were carrying bb when you walk in to get one I know where I live the reps would say don't get that phone its no good. The government wants everyone to have a iphone so they can monitor everyone with a cell phone. What better way to do that then to help get rid of the most secure phone in the world??????.

Tracy Austin I have been thinking the same thing for awhile, in reference to Gov. Sabotaging BlackBerry in usa for spying purposes.

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What BlackBerry needs is Alan Mulally, well I highly doubt they can get him even though he is retiring from Ford within a year but word is he's in line as Steve Ballmer's replacement. But if they can get someone with that kind of management prowess it would light hell of a fire. Look what's happened with ford, I started there a month after Mulally came on, and spent my time there having to answer the dreaded, Oh Ford is going out of business routine. I would go into a long discussion as to saying that yes right now isn't the best of times but Ford isn't going away I have a lot of faith in the new CEO, because he has a strong practical plan, and he has hell of a track records, but also due to my uncle's work he dealt closely with Mulally during his days at Boeing and had only praise for the man calling him one of the brightest and best in management. Blackberry just needs to double down get a real management team, get a CEO who isn't afraid but is a lightening rod. Honestly, as exciting as those Blackberry conferences were it felt like the guys on stage were doing a H.S. presentation and really all the excitement was fueled by anxiety. Honestly at this point what do they have to lose.

The biggest mistake BlackBerry made as a company was not unified os for tablet and phone. Look at ios, android and windows mobile. Those companies was trying to makes same apps/experience on phone and tablet.

Just IMHO

I can tell u that Marketing Fail big time for BlackBerry. Retail can care less if they sell BlackBerry or not. In Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia in the pass few months don't have BlackBerry in their shelve. Sale r surprise if you are asking for a BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

Apologies if this has already been commented upon (i don't want to read all 176 comments), but how well does the "fresh blood" thesis stand up given that both Tear and Boulben are themselves "fresh blood", both having worked for BB for only 1.5 years (see WSJ article: http://blogs.wsj.com/canadarealtime/2013/11/26/blackberrys-ousted-execut...)
In my view, the "fresh blood" syndrome is a myth: the person who has made a mistake in a position, if given a second chance, is far less likely to make the same mistake again. That is, we learn from our OWN mistakes, not the mistakes of others (which is why every generation has to repeat the errors of their fathers) meaning that an employee often becomes more valuable after screwing up, provided that he or she has the opportunity to learn and grow. Yet we live in a world where the response to a mistake or performance considered unsatisfactory is to kick out the old and bring in someone new, to the ultimate detriment of the organization given that the new guy has no experience of what works and, of equal value, what DOESN'T work for this particular organization. In my view, these types of firings are purely optics designed to convince the investing community that improvements are underway.

I don't understand why BlackBerry have so many models for their phone. I think Z10 and Q10 is good!!! Apple have iPhone, iPad, iPod, all are different usage. All the Apps and music from Apple are inter changeable. Use ur brain BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

I think that was the problem. BlackBerry is basically mentally incompetent with the current "brain" they have. This move by Chen is very much welcomed! Hopefully he will shore up these weaknesses.

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Mr. Chen, call me when you oust your CIO. It would be able honor to take over that role.

Great work thus far. Looking forward to see my stock rise up even further.

Posted via CB10

I love this guy! He is gangsta...and kicking ass so far! Finally Frank "The Boulb" Boulben got clipped! Mob style! And all these other dingleberries! Officially BlackBerry calls it "transitioned" out of the company! But I'm sure in private Chen is like...who is the moron now motherf**ker!!

Cartman says: Screw you guys, I'm going home!

This brings a little hope to the situation. I've been of the mind, for a long time, that current management has been anything but effective or efficient from Heins to the other CxOs to the board. Blackberry's problem was primarily its complete lack of competent leadership. Everything at the top needs to be demolished and rebuilt.

Hopefully, this leads to Blackberry becoming more diligent about its hardware and software engineering. I'm tired of seeing new features with new bugs while old features maintain old bugs. The day I can end a call on a busy signal without it being a problem will let me know that BlackBerry is at least on the right path.

Til then....

Posted via CB10

Does not hiring a new CMO mean they will likely give up on hardware? I really hope not.

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When Thor came in 99% of people said he would turn BB around and cheered every move he made. Same thing is happening now with the new CEO. Time to get your heads out of the sand and realize BB is done for consumers. If not in 2014 then soon after. The company will probably be broken apart and sold. No amount of BB coolaid will change this. Very sad.....

it all depends. i thought thor was gonna do something but he first of all appeased to all blackberry playbook owners (thats what got me super excited about crackberry in the first place) by saying bb10 will come to it..

surely you wouldnt make such a blatant call without checking with your tech team? that was a lie i wont forget. still holding back on getting a z10.. fantastic phone, and for the price im getting it, i cant complain but still!

someone tell me...did they fire thorsten Heins? cuz i dont like him much.. he seemed "all talk, broken promises, no action".. or flat out lie.. almost like he was hiding stuff!

forgive me for asking this rather simplistic question, but I'm a hands-on person myself (much like Chen come to think of it), my concern is that if BlackBerry goes enterprise-only sales, how would the non-enterprise consumers go about buying future iterations of BlackBerry phones?

Posted via CB10 on my BBQ10