BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEO John Chen said that his main focus is on building back up the company's legacy enterprise business, and argues that customers using smartphones on other platforms would be welcome to use BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 and the company's enterprise security and services.
"We need to get the enterprise customer interested in us again," Chen said in a recent interview with CrackBerry. "That's a tall order. The market has slid very quickly in the last 12 months." He added that "the good news is that I have talked to enough customers, and they do believe in our security advantage, and they do like to see us win. There's a lot of goodwill out there still. But we have our work cut out for us on that."
Chen said that the company needs to entice users on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS to use BlackBerry's enterprise services, and to decouple those services from the BlackBerry device brand. "BlackBerry is about security, about productivity, and about communications. I think those could agnostically be put on anything," he said.
"You could be an iPhone customer, and also a BlackBerry customer," Chen said. "You could be an Android customer, and also a BlackBerry customer. It's not mutually exclusive. I think that's an important key message of the company going forward." He said in the future BES could support Windows Phones from enterprise rival Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).
Chen noted that BES needs to continue to evolve, especially because other companies are muscling into the mobile enterprise security and device management markets, and he wants grow the server solution into a "enterprise mobility computing engine."
"BES actually today makes money. It's just not growing," Chen said. "In fact, as BB7 got retired, it's going the other way. I need to add the features and functionality to go back the right track," he added. It will be a tough climb for a company that recently posted a $4.4 billion quarterly loss.
Those comments jive with what Chen has said in recent interviews about reviving BlackBerry's business. Meanwhile, Chen has been busy filling BlackBerry's executive ranks with former colleagues from Sybase and SAP. He recently noted to Re/code that 30,000 of the company's 80,000 business customers have a BES 10 system in place, but that many of them are trial customers. Chen said he needed to covert many of them into paying customers, which could spur more BlackBerry device sales.
"I think I am going to sell the server first," Chen said. "The server will lead the device sale."
In terms of devices, BlackBerry recently forged a five-year manufacturing deal with Foxconn for the contract manufacturer to jointly develop and manufacture some of BlackBerry's new lower-end devices and manage the inventory associated with those devices. Chen also recently told CNET that the first Foxconn-produced phone will be priced under $200. He also hinted at another, and higher-end, smartphone that would include a physical keyboard, which BlackBerry would design in-house. Chen has emphasized in recent interviews the importance of returning to BlackBerry's roots, including to physical keyboards.
- see this CrackBerry article
- see this ZDNet article
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