During the inaugural Code Conference in California today, BlackBerry CEO John Chen went on stage to talk about the future of the company, and how he sees it going with Re/code’s Ina Fried and Walt Mossberg. Chen, being his usual realist, but upbeat self talked about the challenges lying ahead.Comparing BlackBerry to a sick patient in a hospital, Chen said “we have a lot of problems, but we’re not dead.”
While Chen recognized there are parts of the company that were in worse shape than he presumed when he took over the reigns at BlackBerry late last year, he believes his turnaround attempt can be successful. “I am quite confident that we’ll be able to save the patient.”
Chen was also asked whether he was the most qualified person to run the company. “Am I the most qualified? No, I’m the only one they could find,” he answered.
BlackBerry’s CEO also reemphasized the need to go back to its enterprise roots in order to once again be successful, while also making products for specialized markets where security is valued, like healthcare and government.
Referring to the handset business, Chen was asked if BlackBerry would make Android handsets. “I can’t comment on that right now.”
And on the question of whether BlackBerry could survive without its handset business, he responded “I will be able to create a lot of value for our shareholder even without the handset business, but I can create more with the handset business.” If BlackBerry were to ditch its phone maker status, Chen is confident it can survive on its software, and patents alone.
Chen did remind audience members though that BlackBerry will make another run at the consumer market with hardware in the future. “I am not by any shape of the imagination … giving up yet.”