Blackberry Ltd (BBRY) Will Always Be a Phone Company: CEO John Chen


BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) will always be a phone company even if it means working with other smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics (KRX:005930), according to its Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen.

Mr. Chen said, “When I tell people, ‘If we don’t make money I’m going to get out of the handset business,’ I mean the hardware. We have tons of software. That could absolutely run on not only Android phones but Apple phones or Windows phones.”

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is already available on Apple’s iPhone and other devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Mr. Chen aims to end BlackBerry’s losses on its device business units over the next two quarters. The Canadian technology company is planning to expand the sales of Priv, its first smartphone powered by the Android operating system.

According to Mr. Chen, BlackBerry will produce new smartphones of its own if the strategy becomes successful. If not, the company’s productivity apps and security software will still be integrated on devices made by other companies.

BlackBerry has good opportunities in licensing its technology

BlackBerry ushered the era of smartphones with its mobile e-mail in the early 2000s. However, the Canadian technology company failed to keep up with the innovation in the smartphone industry particularly the shift to full-screen devices and the development of different applications.

During the previous quarter, BlackBerry sold 700,000 devices, the lowest number since 2007.  Mr. Chen prefers to keep the company an original manufacturer of devices. However, he sees good opportunities for the company by licensing its technology to other smartphone manufacturers or by layering its software with their hardware.

The Priv costs $699 in the United States. The phone is in line with the high-end Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S6. “It is a little high, but it is very expensive to build. It’s not like stamping out cupcakes,” said Mr. Chen.

He added that BlackBerry’s next Android smartphone will likely have a middle-of-range price. Smartphones still account 40% of the company’s revenue.

BlackBerry software business

Currently, BlackBerry’s growth is coming from its software business. The company’s revenue from the business increased almost 200% to $161.5 million this quarter.

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ::BBRY) (TSE:BB) is on track to achieve its $500 million target revenue from its software business by March 2016, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Joh h Butler.

Mr. Chen’s goal is to boost further the growth if the company’s software business by at least 14%, the current growth rate of the enterprise mobile management market.