Here is another interview of BlackBerry CEO John Chen with Emily Chang from “Bloomberg West. During this interview, he touched on several topics including his renewed optimism on BlackBerry’s future prospects, the Amazon partnership and the monetization and future plans for BBM.
When asking him about his 80/20 prediction, Bloomberg as predicted, pressed him on explaining where the 20 came from and asked him where his doubt came from. Chen’s answer shown below was in my view very smart and he came across as a pragmatic leader who knew what he was talking about and not one with the tendency to shoot from the hip.
“The world could change, the market could change. I mean I’ve been in business long enough to know never say anything about 100% because you will jinx yourself.
So you know, again I just don’t want people to just focus on the 20, I want people to focus a lot on the fact that I am absolutely comfortable on the viability of the company going forward. You saw all the numbers, we could talk about those. We’re in good shape right now.”
When asked about BlackBerry’s plan to gain an additional $100 million dollars in revenue in fiscal year 2016 and where it was going to come from, Chen emphasized the following that I have paraphrased
“I really believe that we have a good handle on our monetization of BBM. First of all lets talk about BBM. It is the most secure monetization system. It has 160 million registered users, of which about 85+ million are monthly active users. So the monetization plan is in 3 buckets. One is the “Enterprise BBM function. We just released one called “BBM protect”, which are highly encrypted data messaging between 2 users. And there are a lot of new features and functionalities that will come out in that way. Voice and data alike.
And then there is the Mobile Payment. As you know we have a system called the BBM Money running in Indonesia and doing quite well there. We just entered in an agreement with EnStream, which is a Canadian mobile payment system with the three major banks and the three major telecoms, Visa and Mastercard in Canada and we are using our infrastructure that is another aspect of it.
The third bucket has to do with the consumer space. We have a lot of channels. Those are great for advertising. I won’t do the advertising myself or sell the advertising myself, but I have agencies or you would think about partners and distributors that would do so for us and we have a couple of early successes and then in the virtual goods world that includes stickers.
So there are 3 buckets, depending on what part of the world we are in and what segment of the customer base we are in, have the ability to monetize any or all together. We believe we can get to $100 million.”
CEO Chen did say that BlackBerry was getting close to the “break even” point in its handset device division but would need a couple more quarters to start making money on phones. And as BlackBerry made money on phones, they would sell them forever, but BlackBerry’s focus was to be an end to end provider in services and mobile world.
Regarding the Amazon App store deal,he did say that there was a benefit to both companies working together as Amazon was interested in BlackBerry’s userbase and BlackBerry was in need of apps on the consumer and prosumer side. He did say that right now they don’t have enough volume or money to do both. So BlackBerry was going to focus on getting the professional and enterprise based apps and Amazon would help in getting the consumer apps.
On BlackBerry’s future prospects, Chen mentioned that BlackBerry had removed their “for sale” sign and is not seeking a buyer. But did say that since BlackBerry is a public company, if there was a substantial offer that was supported by the shareholders and would not affect their customers, then he would have a duty to look at it. But he did stress that he does not want to sell and is not seeking a buyer.
From the interview, my sense is that CEO Chen sounded a lot more confident about BlackBerry’s future prospects and sees a lot of growth potential in the company. He did have this message for those dissenters, and others who were concerned about the company’s future
“We’re viable company, we have a strong balance sheet, lots of cash and we are now starting to focus on growth”
Chen once again by this interview is demonstrating that he is the right person to lead BlackBerry and that he has a very clear vision on where he intends to take the company. He is definitely putting the changes in place to turn BlackBerry around and to make it into a thriving company.