BlackBerry CEO questions value of innovation, champions 'Classic' style

Maybe BlackBerry was never broken to begin with? That's the sentiment flying from the page of the latest memo from the beleaguered mobile company's CEO.

Imagine a smartphone with a physical keyboard and a trackpad. With those two attributes alone, if you asked someone to name that device's maker, they would undoubtedly reply, "BlackBerry."

Those ingredients have always been vital to BlackBerry's not-so-secret sauce, and perhaps the beleaguered mobile phone maker's mistake all along has not been sticking to its original recipe.

Or rather, "Classic" style, as so described by BlackBerry CEO John Chen in an open letter on Wednesday.

Amid lambasting the ubiquitous buzzword "innovation" as one that is tossed around "too often and carelessly," Chen postulated that "there’s also something to be said for the classic adage, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it."

Chen hinted there was nothing wrong with BlackBerry to begin with and should have just kept developing what it already did best.

Furthermore, the company formerly known as Research In Motion has been wasting countless time, money and brainpower by pouring them constantly into now-failed attempts to catch up with the changing mobile ecosystem -- but especially Google and Apple.

Of course, these observations are much easier to make in hindsight, but there is always something to be said about trademarks and familiarity.

During an interview the Recode mobile conference on Monday, reality star and mobile gaming app pusher Kim Kardashian gushed about her love of the BlackBerry form factor to the point where she stocks up on them from eBay.

"BlackBerry is my heart and soul. I love it. I will never get rid of it," Kardashian told Recode's co-CEO and executive editor Kara Swisher. Makes you think Kardashian should have been BlackBerry's celebrity advocate rather than just picking up Alicia Keys's name out of hat.

Chen picked up on this sentiment in his memo, championing the feel and nostalgia of "BlackBerry Classic."

He wrote:

It’s tempting in a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market to change for the sake of change – to mimic what’s trendy and match the industry-standard, kitchen-sink approach of trying to be all things to all people.

But there’s also something to be said for the classic adage, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

BlackBerry Classic reflects that. It is classic BlackBerry – complete with a top row of navigation keys and a trackpad. It’s the device that has always felt right in your hands and always felt right in your busy day.

Chen acknowledged that all companies do need evolve with the times, citing the BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry 10 operating system for its productivity and collaboration features.

But one has to wonder if BlackBerry isn't simply going back to the drawing board with its next debut, but to its original blueprints altogether.

For now, we'll just have to see what BlackBerry decides to cook up next. Chen and company are scheduled to provide an update on BlackBerry's enterprise strategy in San Francisco on November 13.

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