BlackBerry CEO: 2014 strategy will rely on enterprise, BBM, QNX

BlackBerry CEO: 2014 strategy will rely on enterprise, BBM, QNX

Summary: The latest exec to sit at the top of BlackBerry goes back the drawing board for what could be the beleaguered phone maker's last grasp at survival.


All of us have resolutions and things we'd like to work better at in 2014, but there are few who have as tough a road ahead as BlackBerry's latest chief executive officer, John Chen.

Getting the ball rolling early on a Monday morning when many in the tech world are still on vacation if not slowly meandering back into the office, Chen penned a memo for CNBC outlining the beleagured phone maker's revised strategy.

Bottom line: BlackBerry will concentrate on what it already does best, likely shuttling away any rumors or hopes (if there are any) about new consumer sector projects.

Acknowledging (in a very understated manner) that BlackBerry is "facing challenging circumstances," Chen highlighted three units where the mobile company will reinforce its efforts: enterprise services, BlackBerry Messenger (especially for iOS and Android users), and the QNX operating system.

Chen hinted we'll see more of that last item next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but he emphasized BlackBerry's leadership with the government crowd in mobile device management.

Here's more from Chen:

Many in the regulated industries — those with the most stringent security needs — still depend solely on BlackBerry to secure their mobile infrastructure. For governments, BlackBerry cannot just be replaced — we are the only MDM provider to obtain "Authority to Operate" on U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) networks. This means the DoD is only allowed to use BlackBerry. Across the globe, seven out of seven of the G7 governments are also BlackBerry customers.

Asserting that BlackBerry is already the leader in MDM, Chen cited that BlackBerry has already signed more than 80,000 companies as MDM customers.

Thus, Chen said that BlackBerry will be continuing to push harder internationally, notably by leveraging its Foxconn ties for new smartphones that will feature "iconic design, world-class security, software development and enterprise-mobility management." Such a move reinforces Chen's previous decision not to scrap the smartphone department altogether.

To recall, the former Sybase head was appointed to the CEO chair back in November, replacing Thorsten Heins. That was after BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, co-founders and co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis resigned from their posts separately.

The Canadian corporation's revolving door of CEOs, not to mention falling stock prices and weak sales numbers quarter after quarter, have caused investors, analysts, consumers and even employees to lose faith in the company. Such a pattern is reminiscent of many companies on the brink of complete collapse.

But in the tech world, that leadership problem sparks memories that could draw comparisons to Yahoo before Marissa Mayer stepped in back in the summer of 2012. Based on the improved stock prices as well as much more positive media and analyst coverage in contrast to the previous four CEOs in four years, Yahoo executed what might have been assumed before as an impossible comeback.

Looking at Chen's memo, he thinks the same could ring true for BlackBerry in the new year.

Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Enterprise 2.0, Tech Industry

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  • BBM?

    I am curious to see how that service will help BB. If this was 3 years ago, BBM could have become the defacto messenging app. These days there are so many options, what would entice someone to give up whatsapp for example? I have a Z10 and like the OS, so much so I have been using it instead of my Nexus 4. I hope they continue to support and improve BB10.
    • :)

      Since you are a Z10 user (im a z30 user) you should know BBM will conquer whatsapp....soon android and iphone users will be able to get voice and video calling and BBM channels which whatsapp doesnt have.....BB10 has tons of potential compared to iOS and Android :)
      Anthony Roberts
      • But,

        what will make someone switch from whatsapp, or any other messaging service? That is BBs challenge. I'm not huge app user but a lack of some popular apps will hurt as well. Personally I would like to see a Amazon and Audible app.
        • Look to the Future

          While I (a Z10 user myself) understand your skepticism about people switching over to BBM, I see the potential in the platform going forward. With app updates, BBM has addressed battery usage issues and within the next few months, BBM Channels and voice calling are supposed to be added as well. You can learn more about all the upcoming features for cross-platform BBM here:

          While WhatsApp is a brilliant IM app, it does have its serious shortcomings. There are privacy concerns for many people (showing "Online" and "Last seen at...", you showing up in the favorites list of anyone who has your number, etc.) and security concerns ( which make it less suitable for any practical industry use. BBM has a proven track-record of security and reliability, and there are always the few handy features like compressed picture sharing and the D/R indicator (the check marks on WhatsApp are not the same []).

          Lastly, WhatsApp is free for the first year of use and then $1/year after that. BlackBerry has all the intention to keep BBM free for everyone.
          • there was a potential for Dinosaurs to continue their domīnance

            BBM users congregate at the tar pits...
    • Just no.

      BB is not looking to convert whatsapp users. They're after enterprise people, not the school crowd.
  • Hmmm I seem to remember several zdnet articles here about various dod depts

    running ios/android trials. bb exclusivity is short lived if not already by gone. And since no non govt employees want to have to carry around a bb device in addition to their preferred device it's unlikely that any non govt enterprises will stick around long. And when those are gone there will be no use for bb messenger on ios/android either. Yeah very challenging 2014.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Hmmmmm

      Considering our BES 10 deployment is in full swing now, we have over 600 BB10 devices deployed, it's outpacing our Android user base by 3-1 at the moment.

      I also take exception with the two device comment. It is not a Blackberry thing - it's an employee preferring privacy thing. Go ask any of these two devices users why they do so and it's pretty much they do not wish their employer to have access to their personal mobile device. Sure you'll have some that are stuck with a older legacy Blackberry device and their personal device is better - Blame that companies poor mobile strategy and planning.

      Pretty much every major company already supports other devices, many still have Blackberry as their corporate standard due to the lower cost, amount of management and it fits their need.

      BTW those DOD trails (with Samsung Knox) haven't been going so well. KNOX doesn't work that as advertised and just had a pretty major security flaw exposed. BES 10 is real, works and is cheaper than any other MDM. Something none of the other MDM solutions want people to know. I've used 3 or the 5 major solutions and they are limited to what Apple and Android allow you to manage and secure. Blackberry controls the whole stack - device, NOC, BES. The lone vendor with a similar setup (Good Technology) is a mess. Good read the reviews on any of these solutions by people forced to use them on "their" device. Maybe then you'll understand why they have two devices.
  • que?

    another thing to increase their customer base is to persuade carriers to offer blackberrys at the same rate as "consumer" phones. at&t charges twice as much for data on a blackberry because they label it a "business" phone. imo blackberry 10 was aimed for a more mainstream market, so they should try to offer it to as many people as possible.
  • Data plans

    I blame Blackberry for this misinformation to remain in the market.

    BB10 devices do not require any special data plan to use as a consumer or enterprise. You can use the standard consumer data plan with these devices. If you want to use BES 10 with regulated mode there is a cost but this would only be used by a small percent of the market where security has much higher needs.
  • It's not only DoD who needs security

    Since Blackberry has a lock on providing to governments, wouldn't it be sensible to derive a version for commercial sale? Many individuals and businesses could use the same technology, if allowed. Just my two cents.
    • It IS available for commercial sale and designed for it.

      BES used to rule but RIM (now BlackBerry) waited too long to support Android and iPhone and people dropped it. Now the uptake has been slow but could accelerate.

      They really need to leverage the security thing. "We handle iPhone and Android very well and but if you REALLY want security go with Blackberry 10 phones and BES"

      Z10 user and love it. Wish I had a Z30 though!
  • totally irrelavant

    im sick of black berry and the whole mess. why doesnt someone tell them what they already know. One you got in to late. two microsoft did the same but lets face it , your not microsoft. Your platform like others is just so so . You have alot of patents . Going to enterprise is signing a death warrant for bb. Get into some RD some mobile gaming , something of that nature. Trying to find a small corner to be big fish small pond isnt going to work . The money spent on the z why ? waste of money , no one is giving up their personal superior device at work for some cut rate old junk. back to the drawing board or just role up shop and sell. to make money right away for capital why dont you support pre paid companies till you have something relevant to add to the ecosystem . Which right now is selling old stuff to new people.