John Chen wants BlackBerry to be more than niche

BlackBerry CEO John Chen
By Simon Sage on 19 May 2014 12:48 pm EDT

BlackBerry CEO John Chen sat down for an interview recently, speaking broadly to concerns about the company and his personal history and management style. Specifically, he addressed the forecast of BlackBerry becoming a niche business solution that we wouldn't see on store shelves. Chen obviously recognizes the bring your own device movement in enterprise, saying "today's consumer is tomorrow's enterprise," and elaborates on the potential to dial back consumer efforts.

"No, why would I do a niche thing? I got a lot of CEO offers before. I'd like to become a strong software and infrastructure provider of everything that connects to each other. Why would people buy from BlackBerry? Partly because of the know-how, patents and security. Today I'm building toward those goals. It will take a while but I have to first return the company to profitability."

What was particularly interesting was hearing about how Chen has to operate in his situation. It's a tough spot to be in and hard decisions have to be made.

"I believe there's a time to discuss and a time to act. I don't like to confuse the two. I have a cadence with our management team where we put up problems, everyone goesto collect data and analysis, and when we come together every two weeks to tackle the decision points, I get advice from everyone, and then I decide. I like getting knowledge from my team, but like a model, the right decision changes with time. If you stay on a problem long enough, especially in technology, it changes. A nondecision is always wrong."

What do you think of Chen's take on the current situation at BlackBerry? Is he the right guy to turn the company around?

Source: WSJ

Reader comments

John Chen wants BlackBerry to be more than niche


If you like to take a lesson on how to use "I" and "we" in front of press as a CEO of a multi-billion Corporation, keep reading... lol

Posted via CB10 with Z30 on


Swiped via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA (Only T-Mo rep still pushing  )  ‎BlackBerry Q10...oh wait a sec....its my new  BlackBerry Z30 (STA100-5), son! The holy grail of phones! Once you go BlackBerry, everything else is wack-berry! LOL! #longestsignatureever

It seems like there is a conflict here.
A few days ago he seemed to say that smart phone sales were an important part of the re-development. When the Z3 came out last week the BB blogs said that there was a wonderful reception to the phone in Indonesia. But, according to today's New York Times, there appear to be no consumer line-ups to make purchases There is competition in that market with $65 Android phones; these can use the local favored BBM at half the cost of a Z3. NYT also said last year hardware represented 37% of the revenue, the prior year 61% of revenue.

So where does BB go from here?
Only support?: He said, "a strong software and infrastructure provider of everything that connects to each other"
In that case, why should BB develop great phones that nobody will purchase? Does large quantity phone sales = success?
Apparently he thinks not, and is going in another direction.

You may be right about the Z3's fortunes. However, I think devices are integral to BlackBerry. There's simply no demand for BES from enterprises that don't have at least some BB handsets. I don't mind him looking toward a future in which they own the platform on which the IoT's is built, but I can't see BlackBerry surviving without a hit, game-changer device and a real boost to the BB10 platform. That's not impossible, but current devices aren't distinct enough from their competition in terms of differentiating unique user benefits to become a hit like that. Maybe the answer is the Windermere? But, whatever the case, in the short run, the answer is not abandoning device sales. He needs to compete in the short run.

Posted via CB10

Drum-roll ...
Z10 and OS10 are released ...
TM has a big roll out ...
Alicia Keys is on board ...
THUD for all the above
With all the fanfare BB can not compete in the commodity based smart phone market.
What can make the floor rattle with something new in a smart phone? They all have reasonably good screens, cameras, speed...

What BB does NOT have is the level of 'app world' support like Apple and Google's Android.

What BB does NOT have is the level of Marketing cash for support like Apple, Google and Samsung.

In the BYOD area, yes, it is possible for a BB enterprise server to operate without BB smart phones on-line (except if they need BB level device security).

I'm just saying the BES 10 flopped bigger than BB10. I'm not sure that anyone is choosing to use BlackBerry for MDM without having at least a few BB devices in their deployment. But, I totally agree that the early BB10 phones didn't differentiate. There simply wasn't a strong enough reason to buy a Z10 as opposed to an iPhone or Android device with their huge ecosystems. I think BB10 was just too late in the sense that a couple of years earlier, people really wanted to stay with BlackBerry and the brand had competitive power in the market -- but, they wanted a BlackBerry that was more like an iPhone or Android device. But, by the time the Z10 launched, BlackBerry was no longer in a situation where it could simply defend by providing a similar experience to competitors, it needed to provide an experience that wasn't available through other platforms, some distinguishing rationale. And, it didn't. I love my Z10 and my Z30, but when someone asks me, "What is it that you need to do with your BlackBerry that you can't do with something like a Samsung S4?", I don't really have an answer. I mean, I can say, "I like the way the gesture control flows" or something and the Hub and PIM are far better than stock Android solutions, but... they'll tell me about the apps they use that are also very good. And my BBOS friends are right to say, "If I wanted an iPhone or Android device I'd buy one and that's what BB10 is to me." Because, really, BB10 is much more like Android or iOS than it is like BBOS. It's like Android or iOS without the large, quality ecosystem. But, it's a good foundation. I think the Windermere could be a breakout hit phone, but it has to distinguish itself and I'm not sure if I've yet heard how it will do that. It'd be best if the distinguishing factor was hardware/software, protected by IP, and provided a direct, drool-worthy benefit to prosumer types. If BlackBerry can do that, and they can focus on direct sales over advertising, you'll see what should have happened with the launch of BB10: a BB renaissance. If not, BB is doomed to become a Chen company, which just isn't worth following.

With the ability to pre order online now people not lining up for the z3 release means nothing. Should sales information be correct it just seems to me people did it the right way, order from the couch, be patient for a day or so and voila! Z3 at the front door.

Posted via CB10

The more I hear from Chen the more I like. Seems to have his head in the right place. I'll judge on execution though.

I like how he has a very clear cut strategy. I believe the more you talk about reaching your goals, the better chance you have of reaching them.

Swiped via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA (Only T-Mo rep still pushing  )  ‎BlackBerry Q10...oh wait a sec....its my new  BlackBerry Z30 (STA100-5), son! The holy grail of phones! Once you go BlackBerry, everything else is wack-berry! LOL! #longestsignatureever

The best thing is his message has been consistent. Perhaps he gives away less but at least he's moved BlackBerry away from being a drama queen.

Posted via CB10

I also believe the more the fans cheer him on with a loud voice, it will give BlackBerry and Jon more motivation to keep on fighting for the fans.

I agree.

Swiped via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA (Only T-Mo rep still pushing  )  ‎BlackBerry Q10...oh wait a sec....its my new  BlackBerry Z30 (STA100-5), son! The holy grail of phones! Once you go BlackBerry, everything else is wack-berry! LOL! #longestsignatureever

John Chen really needs to take the word "I" out of his vocabulary and replace it with "we" when referring to the actions of the company.

BlackBerry ceo needs an iron fist at the moment.

Steve jobs wasnt a "nice guy" either

BB10 - call blocking please, BBM - too many to list

Chen is using a good tactic he knows the situation the company is in and by addressing all efforts and changes as an I (one person)decision if the goal is not met or the effort fail, he will be the cause of the fall and not BlackBerry, leaving the chance for him to leave and letting hope for the company to get a a new CEO and try again. Is a smart decision and a smart leader action.

Posted from my flagship Z30

I think my problem is that he often uses "I" to describe policy decisions that really should be made by his board or with his board's buy-in and approval. He's a good talker and this is a fairly minor issue.

The only problem I had with Thorsten was how often he said "we" meaning "the board" Board think will not get BlackBerry where it has to go.

From my Neutrino Powered Z10

Well, saying "I" when it's a board decision is a good way to get yourself fired. John Chen works for the board with the task of implementing board policy.

Having said that, I understand what you mean...

No, John Chen was hired because they needed someone with the leadership ability, technical and strategic knowledge and connections to lead the company. Otherwise why have a CEO at all? Just run the company by committee.

From my Neutrino Powered Z10

Right, execution is Chen's job. But, at least for awhile after he was interim CEO, Chen was still working for Silver Lake. I think Chen may still live in LA. If he said, "I'm going to stop making handsets," I'd respond that a policy decision like that should be made by the full Board. Frankly, I'd also wonder whether his decision was based on a desire to grow BlackBerry or increase it's saleability to Silver Lake / Dell. This isn't running the company on a day to day basis by committee, it is consulting with your bosses, the shareholders/owner's representatives, before radically screwing up their company.

Remember, Chen had nowhere near the kind of resume to justify hiring him as CEO of a company like BlackBerry. I understand that he did a turnaround at Sybase, but that's like saying Jerome should be the CEO of Twitter because he made the leading Twitter client for BlackBerry. There were rumors that both John Sculley and Mike L. were interested in the position. At the height of their careers, both enjoyed exponentially more success than Chen has ever dreamed of. So, fine, go with Chen, but he doesn't get to be King like he owns the company. I've never seen BlackBerry have less momentum in the US than it has in the last couple of months. The stock market will love Chen for telling them what they want to hear, but aside from that, it's unclear he's converting enterprise to BB10. In fact, it seems that he may be making matters worse by refusing to compete while repeatedly claiming that he's committed. I mean, 2014 has been the year of iOS for Enterprise. I'm still waiting on some news that the Z3 is a sales success given its low margins and I mean news that comes from some source that isn't tied to BlackBerry or shows evidence based on a show they put on in the park.

So, yeah, given Chen works for a publicly-traded company and was a bold, risky hire who doesn't know the company and its customers that well and had never run a company as large and successful as BlackBerry before, Chen shouldn't govern as King. He should have a great deal of discretion on CEO matters. Since we're talking about a turnaround, he should be seeking Board approval for major strategic changes, but expecting to receive approval. I think part of his plan is based on assumptions about BlackBerry, enterprise, and "regulated industries" that are simply not true, but if he learns and adjusts quickly, I can live with a little "In Chen We Trust..." I'm glad to hear he understands how central devices are to BlackBerry's business even when they are losing money.

Posted via CB10

What the hell are you talking about? Did you just seriously credit Mike L. as a knowledgeable CEO and discredit Sybase as a tiny, irrelevant organization? What world do you live in? This comment has so much fail it n hurts my brain.

Also, ask the board? Really?! The board cares about one thing only, profit. Chen gets the company profitable they'll be brown-nosing him all day long.

I'm out, my head hurts.

Posted via CB10

Yes. I made this comment because (a) Mike L. grew RIM into the largest company in Canada, and at the height of his success he was selling nearly 7,000 devices an hour and (b) Sybase is tiny and irrelevant compared to what RIM was at its height under Mike L.

I'm not questioning whether the Board supports Chen at this time. They could fire him if they wanted, but there's no talk of that. All I'm saying is that he isn't King Chen. Hopefully, he'd agree. Finally, let me add that while I'd love to see BlackBerry succeed, the company was basically profitable under Thor a couple of quarters ago. And Chen's first quarter would have been disasterous if it weren't for cost-cutting measures, layoffs, and reorganization initiated by Thor. The reality is that your head hurts because you have no reason to be a Chen cheerleader. He's probably ruining the company you love and definitely transforming it into something that is a lot less likely to serve your needs. And, all we've heard is talk of profitability. We don't even have a nexus between the lengthy timeline and the strategic plan for getting there. It's poorly reasoned and based on assumptions about the Enterprise "niche", "regulated markets," and embedded systems that are just obviously not true to anyone who lives in the United States. But, other than that, Chen is awesome and soooo much better than Mike L. or John Sculley... ;-)

I am also shock at what BlackBerryFan777 said I'm like this guy is crazy or out of his mind? Chen don't know nothing about blackberry? I can't believe he even said that...are you for real...? Oh man My head hurts to. Lol...

Posted via CB10

Why is it that so many Chen fans feel the need to defend him through (a) poor grammar, (b) name-calling, and (c) a complete absence of facts?

I see his use of the word " I" means that he is taking personal responsibility for the his actions and decisions. Too many CEO's take credit but never accept blame when things go wrong - to me that makes him a strong and confident leader.

Or you could see it as him (John Chen) taking ownership of the situation, strategy, process and methodology. He is obviously team focused as the second long exerpt illustrates, but his language indicates ownership, which I prefer from a CEO.

From my Neutrino Powered Z10

Yes, but the Board needs to set policy. He should continue to be a strong CEO, but he's not King. I think it's just an informal way of speaking he has, and it could be about showing responsibility, as you suggest. I'll be more convinced when I hear him refer to problems, mistakes, or missed opportunities in the first person. As of now, "I" seems reserved for the new, bold action of his strong leadership, whereas "we" is used to describe past decisions. That's fine, I suppose. Wall Street likes the way he talks. I don't care one way or the other, but I do care about when I'll get my hands on a Q30 / Z50. Those devices were rumored for 2nd quarter 2014, but under Chen the rumor mill is leaning towards 2015 for Windermere. Uncool.

Things are fairly fluid at the moment. That the devices were *rumored for 2nd quarter 2014" doesn't amount to a hill of beans if BlackBerry didn't come out and say so.

Agreed. It concerns me a little bit that things have been so quiet in the US where an expensive phone like either the Z50 or Q30 would need to sell well. I mean, I don't think I've ever experienced BlackBerry having anywhere close to this small a percentage of mindshare in mobile as it does right now under Chen. The last quarter for Thor wasn't great, but the BB10 launch, while not a sales success, at least kept people talking and thinking about BB. Right now, there isn't much for people to buy and there's even less for them to think about. BB is just too quiet for a company trying to disprove claims that they are now irrelevant.

But, yeah, I credit Chen with talking (well) about some things and generating good market buzz, but beyond that... I'd like to see BB introduce something that competes, and that's not going to be easy given some of the rumors about the iPhone 6 and the Amazon phone.

There has been more positive mention of BlackBerry since Chen took the helm than has been since iPhone 4 came out to obliterate BlackBerry marketshare. Thor and Co. did nothing to repair the damage and only kept going down the same rabbit hole laid out by short-sighted co-CEOs while basically openly lying about the platform's reception and success.

Posted via CB10

I disagree. I've seen almost no mention of BlackBerry aside from the financial press and a handful of tech publications who applauded Chen for echoing the longstanding claim of BlackBerry's competitors that BlackBerry is just about enterprise. If you look at Thor's launch of BB10, it was covered by just about every major tech publication and overall received positive reviews. It's hard to find anything out about the launch of the first ChenPhone, but the NYT's basically said BlackBerry was lying about the long lines to buy the Z3.

But, aside from whether the Z3 was a fiasco or a hit, this is really the first time I've experienced BlackBerry just not being part of the discussion in regards to mobile in first world countries. T-Mobile laughed in Chen's face and simply dumped BlackBerry -- probably because Chen can't or won't back up his talk with anything that interests their customers. And, I often don't see BlackBerry devices at mobile stores or hear mention of BlackBerry in articles or discussions about the mobile industry. Thor tried to compete by releasing competitive devices and spending on building the platform. I enjoyed BlackBerry Jam events and Blackberry Live. But, under Chen, BlackBerry doesn't even have a splash event like all the other major platforms do.

I hope the Z3 was a monster success and that Chen gets addicted to the idea that he can win the device game, but I still think anyone who loves BlackBerry should be very critical of John Chen.

I like the fact that he is using "I" because it shows he is taking personal responsibility for how he is leading the company.

This also means that if things fail, his own quotes put his personal reputation on the line. People who socialize responsibility hide behind the face of their company, and cannot be trusted.

Posted via CB10

Him saying "i" is the only thing that gives me confidence in BlackBerry.

Saying "we". Passes the ball. Makes it seem more collective.

So if and when this collective fails...

Who's fault? It's everyone's fault! "We"

This way he takes all the blame and goes down with the ship! And it shows more confidence that he doesn't want to pass the buck.

 BlackBerry Q10 

There's a difference between passing the buck and enjoying success as a team. Any company is only strong as a team, not just one individual.

There is no success yet. That why almost everyone on this chat is disagrees with your argument. ;-)

BB10 - call blocking please, BBM - too many to list

if bb doesn't go bankrupt in the next couple years....he will start to say "we" more. So don't worry. He will give credit when he should. hes doing it right as a captain should with a dying fading brand. Don't forget Blackberry is not HEALTHY and is dying.

this also helps bb have a new ceo if chen fails in his attempt to save them...they can say "oh chen is the reason. Berry is good brand. It was just chens fault the last couple years. now we have a new guy" and it will give them a time extension in the media's eyes.

it may be hard to believe but he knows what hes doing. Thats why everyone wants him.

the second he leaves bb he will get an even more amazing job offer for sure. probably 10 offers.

My guess is the "I" isn't going over well with the folks left at BlackBerry who are now being asked to work long and hard to get the job done with less money and less people. His decision affect the lives of many people so the "I" sounds fairly shallow at the moment I agree.

the 'i' is saving them in case they fail. And puts all the blame on chen. So they can get a new ceo and have a TIME EXTENSION to live a bit longer. Its what good leaders do. By not passing the buck.

when you are successful you say "we" and you give everyone else credit and take yourself out of it. Leaders.

Right or wrong, everybody thinks the company is in bad shape. He doesn't have to admit anything, the perception is already there. All he can do is make the media focus their negativity on him. As others have said, the moment is expected to come where people say "John Chen saved BlackBerry ". In his first public statement after that, he'll say "everyone did a tremendous job, this company was amazing in how they pulled themselves through ". And it will be "we" from that point onwards.

Posted via CB10

no. everyone knows bb is not sucessful. They have a 0% MARKET SHARE in smartphones.


How can that be considered success! its complete and utter failure.

Wrong. He is the one making the critical decisions and setting the direction for the company, the rest of the company simply follows. I'm totally supportive of that.

Posted via CB10

"I got a lot of CEO offers before."
"We got a lot of CEO offers before."?? No, that doesn't make sense...

"I'd like to become a strong software and infrastructure provider of everything that connects to each other."
I think he meant to say "I'd like the company to become..." simply saying "We'd like to become..." wouldn't make much sense either. Remember English wasn't his first language. Try reading these quotes in his strong accent and maybe you'll remember that he might miss a word or two sometimes...

"Today I'm building toward those goals. It will take a while but I have to first return the company to profitability."

I'm fairly certain the interviewer was asking him about what he is doing as CEO to try to turn around the company...

"I believe there's a time to discuss and a time to act. I don't like to confuse the two."
His personal feelings, "I" makes sense...

"I have a cadence with our management team where we put up problems,"
"We have a cadence with our management team..."? Wouldn't "we" include the management team?? So wouldn't that statement be redundant?

"I get advice from everyone, and then I decide."
He is the CEO, he is the one making the decisions...

"I like getting knowledge from my team,"
"We like getting knowledge from my team,"?? Again, "we" would include the team, so that statement won't make sense...

I think his comments in this interview seemed on point, no need to start handing out participation trophies...

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

He has done everything he needs to do since taking over, and has definitely shown that he is the leader of the ship! However... until he delivers, we can only hope that he is moving BlackBerry into a positive direction and making the correct decisions.

Via The BlackBerry Z10 Experience.

I'm waiting to see the first high end device under his leadership; then we'll see whether he has really made a positive difference.

Posted via my Q10, USA

On that note, I believe he is doing the best he can. Turning this thing around is not easy and he has stressed, will take time. I only hope that people like yourself will be realistic and give him the time he needs. Under Chen, if BBRY fails, it definitely won't be for lack of effort.

Well, I guess we should wait to see indications of a return to profitability first. Then we'll see whether he has really made a positive difference...

Do you really think that's the right yardstick to be measuring his success by? I don't. It's pretty clear by now that whether or not BlackBerry stays in the handset business it won't be the driver or focus of the company's success. His comment about what he'd like the company to be emphasized software and infrastructure. We, as individual consumers, are more interested in the handset side of things but let's accept reality, we're not the key to the long term success of the company, at least not as currently envisioned. And I don’t say that with bitterness, it's just a fact. BlackBerry handset market share is a blip. We in the CrackBerry community are the tail that's trying to wag the dog! It's too bad, because we are the most enthusiastic supporters of the company, but by and large our interests don't align with the company's current (and probably necessary) strategy to play to its strengths, stabilize, and hopefully grow. Long story short the correct yardsticks by which to measure the overall health of the company over the next 5 to 10 years (and possibly forever) are not devices. Sad for us but true!

Posted via CB10

Yup. And I love my device. So I want success in the software and infrastructure spaces. We need to compete and win at something to stay alive.

Posted via CB10

I question the strategic plan. Everyone I know in enterprise IT and government networks insists that the only reason they use BES, if they still use it, at all, is to support BlackBerry *devices*. QNX, which BlackBerry acquired for $150 million or so, is arguably a little profitable making an embedded operating system for vacuum cleaners and car infotainment systems, but there's still no real platform there, nothing to bet a multi-billion company on. In the end, almost everything that BlackBerry sells involves some useage of devices. Not everything, but a huge chunk of it. Chen needs to compete in devices. If he wins, BlackBerry wins huge. I don't see a reason for BlackBerry to exist without competing in the handset business...

And, yes, I realize that is incredibly depressing given the state of the handset market.

Meanwhile, carrier support is dwindling. There may be a day when BlackBerry returns to cranking out new consumer devices on a worldwide basis, but for that to happen they have to win back the trust of their carrier partners.

I don't like the sound of "he addressed the forecast of BlackBerry becoming a niche business solution that we wouldn't see on store shelves". :(

BlackBerry are not included a position to plan short term.

They wasted a lot of money and time e.g The outages, the PlayBook , the Storm 1&2 .

Alot of BlackBerry allowed itself to be sidetracked by the consumer side of the business at the expense of Enterprise.


BlackBerry now have a second chance...not yet deserved. A chance none the less .

There is still a lot of work to be done.

BlackBerry needs to change the landscape once more on what a Smartphone / tablet can do.

The health care profession is only the beginning.

BlackBerry...Get it done!!!! ©

Posted via CB10


And I think their strategy to tackle the health care sector is vital in regaining the trust of the consumer and enterprise as well as being one of the most suited positions for BlackBerry and their ethos of security and pragmatism.

Posted via CB10

I also agree. Long term, BlackBerry needs to build a revenue base in enterprise, big and small. This can be done through BES, eBBM and secure cloud services. Hardware and BB10 support the enterprise focus, not the other way around.

To move mobile forward, companies need to tackle hardware limitations and enhance M2M capabilities. This is an exciting venture and one that BlackBerry needs to embrace. This could be a real differentiator from Google and Apple which seem happy tweaking their consumer offerings.

Irrespective of the company, hardware margins are destined to shrink. Call them what you want (rebates, trade ins) but the discounting has already started to happen. High quality smartphones under 300 dollars are the future. Best to diversify into services and software.

Posted via CB10

Foxconn should open its company in Indonesia or india so that the low end devices get made in one of these places apart from China

Posted via CB10

That wouldn't be a bad idea, especially for promoting BlackBerry to layal nationalists. Although even in Canada the adoption of BlackBerry is not the best and it would be very difficult to compete if the devices were made anywhere but China, which is a sad truth.

On top of that, if there was a problem in a BlackBerry factory in India for example you could end up with more negative press than what it would be worth, but Indonesia wouldn't be a bad idea!

Posted via CB10

You do realize that Foxconn is not only based in China... in particular... Foxconn BlackBerry Z3 production is actually made in Indonesia...


Oh, and Foxconn/Hon Hai is a Taiwanese company, NOT a Chinese company.

Actually a pretty big distinction. Taiwan is a democratic country with close ties to the West.

In fact, Taiwan is still not recognized as a country in international community... just stating the fact.

Posted via CB10 with Z30 on

It was just fine until China started threatening any country that got "too friendly" with it.

Unfortunately for Taiwan, they are a small island, China has the largest population in the world, second-largest economy, a veto at the U.N., and nukes.

Under those circumstances, Taiwan could be the greatest place in the world and it wouldn't matter.

Well out of everything in that article I think the most poignant and important thing said is "If you stay on a problem long enough, especially in technology, it changes. A nondecision is always wrong.".

I'm glad more so than anything that BlackBerry is moving, and from that, at the very least, they are generating publicity. I'm becoming more confident in BlackBerry and I will continue to support a company that has my best interests at heart (something that can be said for few organisations) !

Posted via CB10

Alea iacta est!

The time for decision is always now, and now it's over! Get it done...

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

"If you stay on a problem long enough, especially in technology, it changes. A nondecision is always wrong." This right here makes me very hopeful for the future of BB!

+1! Although generally words like "we" are used from leaders when referring to their company. It's all about Chen right now!

Posted via my Kick @ss Z30STA100-5/

If he would substitute "I" with "BlackBerry" each time that would make for a lot of free advertising.

Push the brand. Not the individual effort.

John Chen has said what he wants to do with the company and he's now implementing it with success (so far). I don't see how BlackBerry can fail if it continues in this direction.

Cheers. :)

Hope he can turn it around but am becoming increasingly skeptical. LOVE my Q10 but when people look at it, they think it's a throwback phone to the 90's and giggle. Best path for BB is to use Android as the operating system and let Google do all of the OS development work and take the special things about Blackberry (the Hub, brilliant swipes, security, etc.) and integrate them in so it looks the same as now but just with a different OS underneath. Amazon so heavily skins their products you wouldn't know they run Android underneath.

Without an app path like that (which would also save tremendous OS development costs) I'm having a hard time seeing BB anything other than a niche player.

Well, Android Ron, nice troll. If the Q10 looks 90s, I must remember them wrong.
Nokia have messed with Microsoft by selling them an operation that now makes Android as well as WP, but sadly at the same moment that Googlerola have given Lenovo the ability to make cheap, good Android phones. The ship has sailed. BlackBerry could never compete with Lenovo on price or Oppo on performance/price. They must stay distinctive or die.

Posted via CB10

No troll...I own both devices and love both of them. I am a huge advocate of Blackberry but it's hard for people to take the company seriously at this point besides the dwindling number of followers on this site (which I love, BTW).

I agree that they need to remain unique but I think a BB layer on top of Android bringing the best of BB like the Hub, etc. is one of the few paths out of this that I can see for them. The elimination of BBOS development costs alone makes it worth hundreds of millions per year to BB.

Rather than accusing people like me of trolling (not), it will take LOTS of Android and iPhone users to return to the BB brand if they want to have a shot at survival and I really think my path is one of the only ways for them to do that. Agree with you that it can't be a price war or BB will lose so they need to sell a modern product (with the help of Foxconn), with LOTS of modern apps (Android delivers there) and BB unique features (current BBOS) and their awesome keyboards to have a fighting chance.

I use a BlackBerry because it's a BlackBerry - quite a unique product, and distinctive. I don't think if BlackBerry ran on Android, it would make it more desirable.
People think my q10 is a throwback to old BlackBerry 6/7s simply because they have no idea what BlackBerry 10 is, or what it's capable of.
Asides from a logo on a couple of F1 cars, nothing and nobody is pulling consumers to BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

He talks like a true leader. I give him that now. But it is important to wait and see what he delivers. For what he says, it seems like he is on the right track. Time and results will tell.

Posted via CB10

This is a silly question. If Chen isn't the guy then Blackberry is dead. No time or internal energy to try a new guy.

He's a great leader, but does he have the right business strategy...Agreed, though, BB is dead if Chen can't figure this out fairly quickly...

I think it's pretty clear when he says..."I'd like to become a strong software and infrastructure provider of everything that connects to each other".

He's focused on software and infrastructure, NOT devices. The devices side of things will become a NICHE product, but the company will reach out to the broader mobile group with BBM, Channels, MDM, Blend, etc.

What good is software when you don't have a device to run it on? Would BlackBerry have signed a five year contract with Foxxcon if they were not going to be producing devices?

Posted via CB10

Devices are at least part of the infrastructure in my understanding.

Without their own device offering there is no integrated solution and security from server, software, messaging all the way down to the device components.

Only BBRY offers MDM with their own set of devices. And the ability to add any other.

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

I don't think they'd exit the devices business, just that it's not their focus or strategy for growth. The devices business at least in the US market will continue to be a niche business for some time till they can regain traction some other way.

I think that is why the emphasis is on continuing to build on keyboard centric devices as Chen has said previously.

Posted via CB10

I think you're right on the money there.

Still, give'em their all-touch high-end phone which they crave. Just to stay relevant to a certain extent in the consumer space until things get movin'.

(As a Z10 / Q10 owner won't mind and will consider any of the upcoming devices, Classic Q20, Windermere Q30, and Z50) .

Zzzzwiped from a Zedevice....

He seems to be the perfect guy..He has done it before and knows what customer wants. Both Z3 and Classic are perfect examples.

Posted via CB10

He's clearly a strong leader. Any change can be difficult and even painful, but the employees at BlackBerry are fortunate to be working under his leadership now.

In today's mobile space Execution is everything! Like they say, "action speaks louder than words! "

Posted via CB10

I say he's on the right track in terms of enterprise but, we haven't heard anything else. Still, no one is talking about the company's lack of advertising. Why is that? That's critical to sales in every kind of marker with every kind of product. Poor products can have tremendous sales if marketed properly and consistently. Are they sitting on this in favor of other corporate moves? Are they being blocked from advertising and, if so, by whom and where? Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted via CB10

Being blocked from advertising is a beyond ridiculous theory.

Other than the Z3 in one country, BlackBerry has nothing to advertise right now. That'll change with the Classic and BES 12, which will be marketed to the enterprise segment.

Saying they have nothing to advertise is just as ridiculous as saying they have been blocked from doing so. They have other BB10 phones that they could have been advertised and could still advertise now if they wanted to. So, if they are not being blocked (which, I agree is ridiculous), why didn’t they advertised those devices? I'm no expert, of course, but I can see no logical explanation for deciding not to advertise. It's not like they don't have money to do at least a little. If they are concerned it won't help right now, perhaps they have the wrong person in charge of marketing.

Posted via CB10

Do you really expect them to start pushing devices that are a year old when carrier support is going by the wayside? That wouldn't be financially prudent.

BlackBerry had a budget last year with terrible ads and no sales incentives/immersion. By the time they were drowning in their own debt it was too late to try to make BB10 gain traction.

This was a company that "has zero debt" and "over 2 billion in cash". Where did the debt come from they were "drowning in"? Serious question. Not trying not be rude.

Why not advertise now? They don't have to be straight phone based advertisements. They could be BES based as well. Marketing is not restricted to brand new products / services alone.

Posted via CB10

Ya I guess debt is the wrong word, more like negative cash burn. Pretty sure BlackBerry has been advertising BES and the Z30 to enterprise as of late.

Good points.

I want BlackBerry to be more than a niche company, but I need Mr. Chen's help to get the word out there.
As a BlackBerry user, I am not the one who needs convincing.

give us ios/android emojis on our keyboards please :( I'm the only kid in my school with a z10 cos I think BlackBerry is dope

Posted via CB10

The Problem is Bb10 issues. The decision should be to harness focus all energies to FIX it not re roll an old broken wheel the BBOS classic.

Shot from

Your opinion but hold that thought for the next earnings call or when you demand his resignation when BB fails at a second comeback.

Lots of comments to your question. I hope someone is listening. The market in this situation should be clarified by someone. Here is mine :
Apple is the prime.choice for those who can afford. Maybe not the best phone, maybe not the best OS. But overall the best. If you can afford you may not like apple because if image. Or because you like more freedom. Android is the next choice for less money but also more liberty. Apple us constraining. Windows for those who are loyal to Microsoft. Where does that put us blackberrians? That's where branding is key. Not necessarily a niche, but 1) BlackBerry supporters are there because of loyalty,2) because of security, or 3) favour the small guy,or for 4) most productive communications - email, hub etc. Whether niche or not, branding and specialisation is key in this market. BlackBerry must play on these issues and do it very well. Make a good phone, long battery life, intelligent communication and finally security to assure no back door. That's market definition. That's niche.

Posted via CB10

Returning to profitability obviously needs to be his first priority. I think he's taken some good steps in that direction. Where the main revenue streams will end up is unclear to me. Hand set sales seems to be a tough road now.

Posted via CB10

Less talk more action. Why don't we throw out some dates for OS and device updates?

Posted via my Q10

Go for niche until consumers start lining up to buy BlackBerry!

Cut costs as much as possible and be as efficient as any company can!

 BlackBerry Q10  Keep The Faith 

sorry but those days are long gone. Even in markets they BB was popular it's declined rapidly. When this happens, there is no recovery.

I think he is doing fine, he just needs to get the business side moving, witch is what he is trying to do. That's why there is no new phones coming out other than keyboard phones. He has to try to get the business side back so BlackBerry has some stability. BlackBerry is weak right now. No carrier support at all. Keep doing what you're doing jc!!

Posted via CB10

Why do people keep harping about Blackberry making more qwerty devices. If there is a need you build them. It would be like saying why do they still keep making computers with keyboards. It's just a preference. Not everyone thinks touch screens are the best. If they could sell 10 million classic smartphones by all means build them. If they could sell 40 million Z3 by all means build them. You see its just a matter of preference, and has nothing to do with the success or failure of a company. Laughing at someone just because they have a qwerty phone is somewhat childish and stupid. Maybe some people don't like typing on a fingerprint laden screen. Also it's twice as fast typing on a keyboard. Of course if your an Itard or mentally challenged you might like watching all those icons whirling duhhhh. I use a Z30 so I'm not bashing people for using a touch screen, just trying to make a point that Blackberry should make and sell whatever the consumer is demanding, and not being concerned because some one who has an Iphone laughs at you just because Apple doesn't make a keyboard phone. You get the point.

"Return to profitability" are a series of words that could mean BB becomes niche. Exactly how he returns BB to profitability might mean he needs to exclude a visible presence for handsets.

He'll likely do a good job. If it had been up to me, I would have put Android on BB phones years ago. So go figure.

... and still ended up like HTC, with no real differentiation among Android manufacturers. They are not doing well.

Android manufacturers (not Samsung). Struggling, using gimmicks, core-count and skins to make at least a few points why someone should buy their particular handset.

And always undercut by Chinadroid knock-offs.

Anything to add?

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

Throw out some dates for devices and OS updates? Where have you people been. Apple only makes one update pe ryear and forces you to buy a new phone. Blackberry has made numerous updates and put out at least 8 new phones in one and a half years? What more can they do!

You guys arguing "I" and "we", he is the CEO, the leader, the decision-maker. He is owning up to that and the success or failure of the turnaround will hinge more on his leadership and decisions than anything else. He also shields his employees from blame should he fail.

If anyone doubts that he would/will praise his employees for helping him execute his plan should it become a successful turnaround, I will bet you a Z50 or Q30 that he does.

Posted with my  Q10.

Talking strategy is all well and good for the wars of investors, I buy phones from blackberry period. BlackBerry or Chen nut someone needed to communicate with me on what's coming next. Be it services or handsets, Turning the company around is taking up all the chatter and it's getting too noisy.

Blackberry since 2007, Z30 since 2014

I'm afraid he's losing momentum. If you say on the one hand that you want to be a infrastructure software player which connects everyone/everything then where does the Z3 fit in? He seems to be spinning plates trying to keep them from falling.

Posted via CB10

He has already outlined earlier that devices are part of the 4 column strategy, if I still get that right.

But he needs to make money on them. Foxconn has now taken the inventory risk.

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

BlackBerry looks like it's falling off the map with no new handsets since last year. Niche seems like a dream.

Posted via CB10

Blackberry has fallen off the map for at last three years. Chen is lucky is Blackberry climbs up to niche status he's asking for too much too early.

And it's really kind of sad for people to be presented with a decisive and frank leader for a change, and then sit here and bicker about whether or not he uses the term "I" too much.

You people are too much.

I like that he said "A nondecision is always wrong." He's right on the money there. I could see this in the seemingly quick decisions he made right when he took over.

I don't care if he says. I or we or us or me. Get the job done and BlackBerry back into profitability. BlackBerry needs a perception for people to want Google has specs, may not perform as well as BlackBerry but seen as the almighty, then there is apple, simple unsophisticated and a dream. BlackBerry performs better but is not seen as something to desire. Marketing get your caps on and great a need whether real or not.

Posted via CB10

I've said this once and I'll say this again, without the consumer market (BBRY Devices), the Enterprise will not do so well.

BlackBerry has a strong CEO leading them, and this guy understands what needs to be done to get the company profitable.

Posted via CB10

Nice article, Simon, though it would have been nice if you could have reiterated some of the concerns around Chen's personal history and management style instead of just alluding to them. Regarding Chen's response, it's not bad considering the situation. It's very pragmatic, but even if you agree with him and want to "stay the course," the world won't just stop and wait for BlackBerry to become profitable.

Furthermore, regarding the statement that people would buy from BlackBerry "partly because of the know-how," I think Chen and team need to prove that there is still valuable know-how left. There's been a huge brain-drain from the company due to both layoffs and attrition, and it's not clear whether BlackBerry still has a competitive edge talent-wise in any one of the areas it previously had as core competencies. And moves like the Z3 seemed intended to only slow the erosion of share in key markets; they do nothing to help the company regain the mind share it lost years ago.

Chen is all talk so far. Besides one sub par cheap device that's selling in a developing country he's done nothing but talk and talk smack at times. I don't understand why many here are giving them their vote of confidence. Shouldn't that wait until he's actually turned the company around and begins to make actual profit? I'm pretty sure most here would love anyone that holds the title CEO for Blackberry. Not too long ago many here absolutely loved Thorsten Heins, food for thought.

High quality, security unequal, secure multi OS support (android), physical keyboard for serious productivity, good all touch device lineup. .. what's not to compete??? There has to be a way to market BlackBerry brand..(start from president Obama)..

Posted via CB10

None of these are effective marketing points in today's consumer device market, and a couple of them are actually sales floor drawbacks.

My personal opinion is they will exit the device business in the not so distant future. I hope I am wrong. I see zero interest from anyone I know. I sell to retail so I am always watching trends and I do not see people with this product. Sad but true...Posted using a Z10

Posted via CB10

So far, he is good, but need more work on OS where all blackberry users can download direct native android apps.

Posted via CB10

I think Chen is more a software guy. Making high end specification phones, that will get your consumers back. Or at least give them something to talk about. As a blackberry fan I already know that bb's are the bom, but a lot of consumers think otherwise.

Just make a super bb10 torch device and your back.

Posted via CB10

Of course it's too early to judge Mr. Chen. On the other hand, I can't disagree with anything he has done thus far.

Posted via CB10

JC: Just be Cool, Calm & Confident. Well said Mr. Chen, we're onboard with you on this ship!

"There is a time to discuss and there is a time to act". Chen is the right man to lead and Watsa supports him. Both Chen and Watsa are fully vested in BlackBerry's success.

If you believe articles from the NYT or WSJ, I have a bridge from Chicago to Michigan to sell you!

Posted via CB10

"John Chen wants BlackBerry to be more than niche"...

That's an excellent objective... but no matter how excellent the objective is, if it is not done or accomplished within the right time frame, it will be useless... worst, someone will do it...

Posted via CB10

He's taking too long over releasing an impressive all touch bam, In your face incredible hot property flagship device.

The longer it's left the more people leave to other manufacturers.

And they're not gone for a month, they're gone for years due to contracts.

Hurry up Chen or BlackBerry will be no more!

Posted from my BlackBerry Z10...

I'm waiting for the Z3 numbers and the Q results... that's what matters...

John Chen has set a goal... and the simplest way to measure is to check whether he meets the goal or not...

I believed in CEO's before thor came in... I trusted him.. but omg... we collapsed!

Posted via CB10... and my awesome Z10

From the Wall Street Journal

CEO Chen lists every reason you should ditch your iPhone or Android phone for a BlackBerry

By Brad Reed
Monday May 19, 2014, 12:10 PM
OK, so BlackBerry CEO John Chen knows that consumers have been dumping BlackBerry handsets in favor of iPhones, Android phones and even Windows Phones for years now. However, he’s not giving up on consumers just yet and he really thinks that BlackBerry can rise once again to become a major power in the consumer smartphone market if we just give it enough time.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Chen was asked why any consumer should buy a BlackBerry among the many, many options that they have for smartphones these days. His response was much the same as the response that BlackBerry has been giving consumers for years.

“Android’s strength isn’t really the quality of the phone, which BlackBerry has,” Chen said. “BlackBerry phones are always well put together. We have a great BlackBerry Messenger experience, a great operating system. And it’s the most secure phone. Secure not only in data but in personal identity. Younger consumers love all kinds of apps, and BlackBerry runs 98% of all the Android apps. All BlackBerry die-hards know they can run Android apps.”

While it’s true that Android phones’ quality varies greatly, it’s also the case that there are plenty of well put together Android phones out there such as the HTC One (M8) and the Nexus 5. As for BlackBerry Messenger, it’s still a hugely popular messaging app… but it also happens to be available on Android, along with 100% of “all the Android apps” that Chen mentions. This only leaves us with security as a major reason to pick BlackBerry, and while it’s true that BlackBerry has a big advantage in this realm over Android, it’s also true that consumers generally haven’t cared about it.

Elsewhere in the interview, Chen said that there are limits to how far he’ll go in chasing consumers — while the recently released BlackBerry Z3 smartphone costs around $190, Chen doesn’t see BlackBerry going into the sub-$100 smartphone market, which is where the truly dirt-cheap Android phones lurk.

All I have to say is that he better not show a further declining revenue this quarter because the market is going to tear them to pieces and his shareholders will put a wrench in his plans. I hope this doesn't happen because the man is a miracle worker but a lot of these shareholders have been holding the bag since 50+

Chen is the master of mixed-signals and contradictory statements. He's a likeable, charismatic fellow, but I don't think he has any idea what he's doing or how important devices are to most of BlackBerry's other revenue sources. In the US, BlackBerry's mindshare has shrunk at a shocking rate under Chen and much of that is do to decisions about withdrawing from competition as a major platform -- e.g. no BlackBerry Live, no new flagship devices, focus on third world, focus on niche enterprise in a highly unrealistic manner, etc. I'm hoping the Z3 was a success in Indonesia, but with Chen at the helm, it's doubtful. All the photos I saw of lines looked like they were at BlackBerry events not retail stores. But, then again, we're talking about a Foxconn phone in Indonesia as Chen's big launch. Compare this with Thor's vision for BlackBerry 10 and you'll see Chen is just stuck watching that Sybase movie and can't think as big as BlackBerry needs to in order to win.

Having said all that, I hope... I really, really hope... that the Z3 will get Chen interested in devices and that he won't blow 2014 without the Windemere and Z50 being released. If I had one hope for Chen it would be that if we could convince him that he can win at devices, that he'd execute well and improve the sales effort. We'll see.

Dude needs to beef up the browser and if they can stop pop ups slide in and tracking cookie ads along with Google's ability to track users he will drag so many users to buy BlackBerry phones they won't be able to keep up with production.
If they added the ability to encrypt all data transfer to and from the phone with no lag he could win all android users and old BlackBerry fans back.
Everyone hates the NSA and many would love a phone that can defeat that level of spying. Would it cost? You bet! But I'm willing to bet that there are plenty of average users that would pay extra even for a phone that could move data like that.
It's not so much about hiding it's the general principle of the thing, I don't like to be watched! Period!

Posted via CB10

So, we have the Z10, the phone that iPhone wants to be when it grows up, the Q10, the king of keyboard phones, the Z30, the Holy Grail of smartphones, the fastest browser, and a full gesture multitasking Unix based RTOS...

And we can't sell phones????

Find the best marketing guy in the business, give him stock options
, and tell him you'll negotiate his salary after 120 days.

Posted via CB10

No kidding, TXB Bguy. Marketing will be the destruction of this company. They did not need to market when they owned enterprise. This culture could destroy them since they have no consumer marketing know-how and the market became a consumer market -- whether they like it or not.

They only people that can find them are tech geeks that know a good thing when they see it.

I have read defenses for their not marketing on TV, in print, etc. I thought I understood why they did not but now I don't believe it. I think they needed and still need to advertise to keep the brand alive and sell phones.

If the phones are not on store shelves and not advertised, how can they sell phones to anyone but enterprise? Are there really enough enterprise customers left for them to sell to? If so, why haven't they had success since Chen took over? What more can they do?

I think you are right. It's marketing stupid! Advertise! Although I like Chen 6 months have passed and nothing new happened apart from the Z3 launch in Indonesia! Where is Chen's plan for the next 3 years? What message has been passed to the market? Why BB shares are keep falling at Stock Exchange?

Some of Chen's comments sound like plans for 10 years out. Things along the lines of selling software that acts as the backbone of machine to machine communications, or whatever they call it.

There is no time to grow a new business from scratch. Besides that they have a very competitive OS and hardware. Get someone that knows how to sell!

That's my point! Get someone that sells! Why having a such good product there is no market perception about it? Something is wrong and I see no one trying to fix it.

Yes, Paulo. I believe what you are saying here. There is much irony about this if we are accurate. Maybe the American idiom "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" applies. Oh, these phones are not selling? We better find a new product to sell? How do we do that? Well, let's just see what percolates.

Maybe Chen knows all of this and he is just trying to figure out a way to sell the phones. All this talk about machine to machine is just to buy time and keep the press happy.

Chen is doing what he needs to get done. I want to see blackberry return to profitability, not become niche. Fuck that. It's blackberry or nothing else for me, or i'll just stick with a qwerty flip phone and be done. But i'll keep using my present Q10, playbook, bold 9900, previous 9700, all that take sim cards. Even if data doesn't work, phone and sms will, that's just how I am. Blackberry for life.

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

I'd like Blackberry to remain in the smartphone industry and to continue to develop and offer new devices. What I miss from Mr.. Chen's talks is clear message. His messages are not reassuring anybody about the future of Blackberry. We are still guessing what's going to be. We still don't know if Blackberry is on the right path nor if Mr.. Chen has already achieved some results nor if he is successful in turning Blackberry into a better shape nor if there will be new devices (smartphones) or services.

Do you know how you make BlackBerry more than niche? You basically have to rebuild the company from scratch, rethink all previous strategies and be prepared for some dark and uncertain times ahead...basically where BlackBerry finds itself at the moment...and then literally win back each and every customer, not with lofty statements and fancy words but with clear, concise action.

Even with all that, a positive outcome is not necessarily guaranteed...

But hopefully Chen has the iron constitution and the strong stomach to pull this off. When they mean nerves of steel, people are not kidding as it, I think, perfectly applies to what Chen is confronting at the moment .

We will know that BlackBerry made it when it will start to fist both Apple and Samsung making them cough their lungs out....and then stomping their heads into the dirt!!!?????

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