BlackBerry’s CEO, John Chen, has been on a media blitz after the company’s Enterprise event, where they announced BES12. It’s no secret that BlackBerry is going back to its roots with a laser focus on enterprise mobility management.
To discuss the company growing pains, John Chen spoke with Canadian Business. Chen said he took the role of CEO because he was, “intrigued and impressed by BlackBerry’s history, and what it’s done for the whole computing market—not only phones.” He believed the company was worth saving.
Once Chen began the company’s turnaround he says he met with many customers and its employees to gauge the company’s strengths. One strength Chen realized he had to maintain was innovative products.
“I realized that if we don’t have innovative products, it doesn’t really matter if our distribution channel is broken,” said Chen. “You could have the best salespeople in the world, it still won’t matter,” he added.
At the moment, Chen’s primary focus is two products: BBM and QNX. Despite competitors like WhatsApp that has 600 million users and an annual revenue of $15 million, Chen believes BBM can do better.
“I have 91 million active users on BBM and I expect to make almost $100 million in revenue next year from zero,” says Chen. He believes the revenue will be a result of BBM Protected, which is targeted towards enterprise customers.
With QNX, under the new BlackBerry Technology Solutions, the company holds over 44,000 patents with more in the pipeline and a stronghold as the platform for connected cars. Chen says they’re “very much about licensing and more aimed toward the future.”
Internally, BlackBerry is still working out its kinks. Chen says they’re working on ways to better prioritize decision making and holding those accountable if any of the decisions made should be wrong. Nevertheless, Chen believes the company is ahead of schedule in its turnaround story.
Chen harkens to the story of Apple’s incredible turnaround. “…in the technology world, successful turnarounds are rare, but the number isn’t zero,” says Chen. “I can’t guarantee success [for BlackBerry], but it is doable,” he added. Despite all odds, Chen believes, “a year from today, we’ll be generating profit.”