To say BlackBerry CEO John Chen's interview with Code/Mobile went over well would pretty much be a flat out lie. After we posted highlights from the event, the comments section here on CrackBerry went a little crazy along with the rest of the internet. You've all seen the headlines, so there's not much sense in pointing them out but taking to the Inside BlackBerry Blog, John Chen felt the need to go ahead and clear the air in a post titled 'Tempest in a Teacup' stating that he feels some context may have been missed from the interview.
Tempest in a Teacup
My appearance at the Code/Mobile conference created a minor furor yesterday. To my dismay, the media focused on a few of my comments while ignoring many others. That whipped up some commentators into a frenzy, including, unfortunately, a few of our loyal fans.
Here's the context I think that may have been missed yesterday. First, I have 100% confidence in our new PRIV smartphone. Not only will it bring BlackBerry's strong privacy DNA to the Android platform, but PRIV will deliver top-of-the-line features for your maximum productivity, including an oversized screen and, underneath it, a smooth sliding mechanism that unveils the iconic BlackBerry keyboard. And all the business and recreational apps that you could ever want courtesy of our good partner, Google.
Besides all of the hard work that our engineers in Waterloo and Ottawa have done to make PRIV a first-class hero smartphone, I am convinced that there is an under-served segment that PRIV can ably fill. Enterprises are increasingly aware of the security and privacy risks that their mobile devices pose. So are consumers. Moreover, the Android smartphone market is massive – 1.2 billion users globally today, according to IDC, growing to 1.53 billion over the next 4 years. I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that BlackBerry will find a strong audience here.
Finally, anyone who has been watching closely what I've been trying to do at BlackBerry has surely heard me say that we would not stay in the device business if we were not profitable. This is nothing new, and I've repeated this many times recently. That said, we are doing everything possible to make our devices profitable. We are committed to both the success of PRIV as well as supporting governments and other customers that demand the security and performance of our BlackBerry 10 devices.
I've also consistently said that BlackBerry's future is in taking our security expertise into the software arena. It's what our enterprise customers want, and it also helps continue our transformation into a multi-platform provider that can secure the mobile enterprise – regardless of type of device. We've taken many steps in recent months to augment our software portfolio.
I'm energized by the acquisitions of WatchDox and AtHoc, and our pending acquisition of Good Technology – all leaders in their respective spaces (secure document sharing, emergency alerts, and mobile device management).
Security and Privacy
Despite my optimism, I'm a realist at heart. It's the engineer in me. It's also why I don't have the patience to sugarcoat. So if you heard me say yesterday that security-wise, the latest Blackphone is now in the same conversation as our devices, you know it's not idle flattery.
At the same time, I mentioned several features coming in PRIV that will help it rise to the very top security-wise, even among secure Android phones. There's the unique key in the chipset of every PRIV smartphone to authenticate the Android OS, so users can be confident their PRIV is not running malicious firmware that could violate their privacy or security. There's our ability to patch vulnerabilities much faster than other Android smartphone makers, and other features I didn't mention. It's why I firmly believe PRIV will be MORE resilient than everything else.
As I mentioned at the time, I thought it was a pretty solid interview and nothing he said was really new information in regards to the handset business or well, pretty much anything else. I was rather surprised he took the time to mention Blackphone but, I took it as Chen being a bit of a straight shooter and telling the flat out truth. Would I as a CEO give air time to others as I'm trying to sell my own device? Probably not but that's likely part of why I'm not a CEO either.
As Chen notes, he's a realist and does not have time to sugarcoat things. I feel him there. I often get 'called out' for similar actions. Sometimes people don't want the truth, they want things sugarcoated. In any case, I'm glad he took the time to clarify these issues in this new post because it was certainly needed though I still think he needs to sit back and chill for a bit. Whether or not it will help any, well, we'll see. Bad news travels faster than good news.