Interview with CEO John Chen on Bloomsberg West

BloombergInterview

A few days ago while in Toronto for the launch of the Passport, Blackberry CEO John Chen had an interview with Emily Chang from Bloomberg West.  He did face some tough questions about BlackBerry’s prospects and its global decline in smartphone market-share over the past several years, but overall I though he did a good job sticking to his position and explaining his turnaround strategy to make BlackBerry into a once again profitable company.

Below is the interview:

In addition, I have also transcribed it below

The interview

Emily Chang:
Joining me right now, John Chen the CEO of BlackBerry.  This is the very first smartphone that you have unveiled globally under your watch John.  How do you come up with the square screen?

John Chen:
We come up because we talked to the customers and look at how they use their device for productivity and looking at the new styled apps, looking at the vertical apps and healthcare apps and we figured that the wider and more 1 to 1 aspect ratio is what everybody will need for achieving more.  So that’s how we came up with it.

Emily Chang:
What’s your goal for this phone, John?  How many do you think you will sell?

John Chen:
I am so sorry, my background is very noisy.  Emily can you repeat that again please?

Emily Chang:
What’s your goal for the phone?  How many do you think you will sell?

John Chen:
I am not disclosing it right now.  We expect it to be successful, but the market will tell me that.  We have various different ideas that we can use as a type of mother/daughter approach.  So we’ll have to gauge where the marketplace is responding.  So far it seems to be pretty good.

Emily Chang:
So lets talk about the market?  You and I have talked about market-share.  IDC (International Data Corporation) are saying that BlackBerry’s global shipments are already lower that 1% and that by 2018, market-share will be 0.3%.  Where do you think it will be?

John Chen:
Well I see my job as to make sure that it does not happen.  Right?  And I think we have a good plan.  We have a good set of portfolios.  By the way, in-spite of everything that we have gone through, this is the third phone that we have released this year and there is also one coming out in a couple of months called the Classic.  And so we started out with the Z3 in May and it is just now in about 13 countries and it seems to be received quite well.

And then we just announced the Porsche phone.  Porsche designed phone on September 17th and now we are doing it obviously here in Toronto myself and my colleagues in Dubai and London and releasing that phone and so I think we can pick up the pace and we should be gaining market-share as we move forward.

Emily Chang:
Your job John is to also make sure that the phone does not bend! You took a little jab at Apple saying that you challenge us to bend the Passport.  What do you think of these reports that the iPhone can bend! I’ve seen it happen in a video.

John Chen:
I have no idea!  I just read the paper before I came here this morning.  I thought that it was a little amusing and you know me.  I cracked that in good humor and not to mean to be mean to anybody. 

On the other hand, our Passport is extremely well built and is somewhat of a challenge, but you have to do it the same way.  You have to put it into your pocket and then see whether it bends or not.  I would doubt that it would happen.

Emily Chang:
Seriously (Emily holding up a BlackBerry passport), does this pass the bend test?  Did you actually test this for bending?

John Chen:
Well we do a lot of mechanical testing.  I don’t know whether we particularly do the bending itself, but I can tell you we actually here showcase the 5 layer of the phone, including the antenna layer, which is a complete steel frame around inside the phone.  So bending that needs a little effort.

Emily Chang:
What do you think of the new iPhones and the Apple watch?

John Chen:
What do I think?  I have been so busy I don’t know enough how to comment on that.  You know obviously they have their audience and I am hoping to go after my audience, which is about people who strongly need productivity and this phone should appeal to them.

Emily Chang:
Now one thing that you do know is that the President is also addicted to his BlackBerry.  Did you send him a Passport to test out?

John Chen:
I don’t think we gave it to the White House yet.  I don’t know, I could be wrong.  I would love to have President Obama use it.  A lot of heads of States use BlackBerry with extra security and this will continue on.

Emily Chang:
Ok, so how about this?  BlackBerry shares are up almost 70% since you took over. So investors are counting on you.  They seem to believe in you.  You said that BlackBerry will be profitable by March 2016.  What is the timeline now?  Any likelihood that you can do it sooner?

John Chen:
I told people that we will be profitable in fiscal year 16.  So sometime in 2015 calendar and I am still standing by it.  You know, depending on the reciprocity of all these phones, the Classic coming out in about two months, our software releases on the BES, I am expecting to see some growth next year.  So with that, if I can get some growth on the top lines, I’ll be able to make it profitable sooner.

Emily Chang:
Allright, BlackBerry CEO John Chen unveiling the new Passport phone today.  Thank you so much!   Steph I’ll send it back to you.

So there you have it folks, BlackBerry CEO John Chen.  What I liked about the interview was that he came across as a straight shooter.  He stuck to his message and did not try to oversell his position and outlook, despite the temptation to do so.  He is definitely the right person for the job and one who has a clear vision where he wants to take the company.

 

 

web99

Web99 enjoys tech and has tried smartphones on all the major platforms. Out of all devices he has tried, BlackBerry10 best fulfills his needs.

  • TRUENORTH

    While I would have loved to have him really nail Apple for it’s crappy products, I have to admit that taking the high road in this instance was the correct thing to do.

  • Wayno

    Chen is the man! A true gentleman and will bring BlackBerry back to profitability, I believe he will bring BlackBerry back to the great company it once was.

  • Blackjack

    I can’t believe they pulled out the old marketshare graphic and pasted it over his face while he was talking how rude. And what a bunch of stupid questions. And why did they edit out the passport that he was holding to his ear?

    • ital1

      I totally agree; those market share doom and gloom prognostications are getting old. I am so glad that the Passport is selling well. For now, the important thing for BlackBerry to do is dominate the enterprise market.

    • Anthony

      It looks like his Passport was edited out of the video by pro-Apple forces at Bloomberg. locco_smiley_39

      • Blackjack

        I think boy Gellar did it. He was afraid of losing his job as smartphone expert.

  • G-bone

    Chen rocks!
    The American Media?
    Not so much.

    #RollingThunder

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