BlackBerry CEO's open letter to enterprise customers: 'We are very much alive'

BlackBerry's (NASDAQ:BBRY) interim CEO John Chen issued an open letter to BlackBerry's enterprise customers in which he declared that the company is here to stay. He also reminded the market that the company's BlackBerry 10 platform can perform mobile device management for other smartphone platforms, not just BlackBerry.

blackberry sybase john chen ceo


The letter follows a similar one the company issued in mid-October as part of an advertising campaign to assure customers around the world that it was not going away. At the time, there was rampant speculation that BlackBerry might be sold.

Chen, a former CEO of Sybase, took the helm at BlackBerry on Nov. 4 from former CEO Thorsten Heins. The company announced last month it had halted its plans to go private in a $4.7 billion deal led by Fairfax Financial Holdings, its largest shareholder, and will instead receive $1 billion in financing in the form of convertible notes from Fairfax and other investors.

In the letter, Chen writes that the investments enterprise customers have made in BlackBerry infrastructure and solutions are "secure" and that he will keep lines of communication open as BlackBerry navigates its current transition. The company indicated this fall it will move away from the consumer smartphone market to focus on enterprise mobility management as a core part of its business.

"We're going back to our heritage and roots--delivering enterprise-grade, end-to-end mobile solutions," Chen wrote. "As we refocus back to our roots, BlackBerry will target four areas: handsets, EMM solutions, cross-platform messaging, and embedded systems. And, just as important, we will continue to invest in enterprise and security related R&D during our restructuring period. In short, reports of our death are greatly exaggerated."     

BlackBerry recently posted a $965 million quarterly loss, which was primarily due to a $934 million charge it took related to unsold inventory of its Z10 smartphone. BlackBerry has also said it will cut 4,500 jobs, around 40 percent of its workforce.

Chen's decision to reassure BlackBerry's enterprise customers is likely a wise one, especially as they consider alternatives, such as Good Technology, MobileIron, Airwatch and others. In late September, research firm Gartner recommended that companies that use BlackBerry's devices and enterprise services think of contingency plans, a recommendation that drew a strong rebuke from BlackBerry itself.

Chen pointed out that BlackBerry's enterprise service can manage iOS and Android devices as well as BlackBerry phones, and that BlackBerry is an established, publicly traded company--unlike some of the smaller mobile enterprise companies that it competes with.

"I believe in BlackBerry and I'm confident in our future in enterprise, our technology and our ability to adapt to changing market needs," Chen added.  

For more:
- see this BlackBerry blog post
- see this TechCrunch article

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BlackBerry issues open letter to customers, says it's here to stay

Correction, Dec. 2, 2013: This article incorrectly spelled the first name of BlackBerry's interim CEO. His name is John Chen.