John Chen has been impressively tight lipped about sales figures of the Z3 as it makes it’s way around the world which is a smart move for a company so hotly followed like BlackBerry.
He usually prefers to gently smile and say ‘very well thanks!’ when asked how handset sales are doing. So getting any sort of actual details is difficult, especially in a market the size of India!
Since the Z3 was first launched in India in June the only clue we had was from import data showing a massive rise in BlackBerry Z3’s to the country just after launch which suggested that BlackBerry were moving fast to meet high demand.
This has now been confirmed by John Chen in a wide ranging interview he has given to Romit Guha of the Economic Times of India where he talks about the Z3 and shines more light on various other aspects of the business:
India key for BlackBerry revival: CEO John Chen
India, one of BlackBerry’s top 10 markets, is critical for the company’s revival, as it provides growth opportunities for its enterprise and handsets business, says the Canadian smartphone maker’s 59-year-old chief executive, John Chen.
In an emailed interview, Chen tells ET that the company—transitioning from a smartphone maker to a product-cum-services provider—is buoyed by the success of its Z3 handset in India and that it is key to it regaining market share in the country.
How critical is the Indian market for the company to turnaround globally?
India is one of BlackBerry’s top 10 markets and remains an extremely important region for us. Extending our leadership in enterprise mobility management (EMM) is a key to our transformation.
We are seeing a great opportunity to grow our presence in India as the enterprise market here begins to embrace mobility as a vital part of doing business. India was also one of the first markets targetted for the BlackBerry Z3 and the device has been very well received by consumers.
Are you happy with the Z3 sales in India and Indonesia? Can Z3 help BlackBerry regain its foothold in India?
The Z3 has been extremely well received in both markets and we continue to see strong demand for the device. In fact, initial inventory of the device nearly sold out in India within two weeks OF THE launch.
We hear from users that they like the price, screen size and battery life. This feedback demonstrates that we are meeting our customers’ needs, which is vital as we work to build share in India.
Can we expect more sub-$250-300 smartphones from BlackBerry in the next year or so? A sub-$100 phone?
I can’t provide too many details about our roadmap, but we will continue to offer customers a portfolio of devices across price points. Right now, we are focusing on the BlackBerry Z3, which we believe is available at an attractive price point for the features and benefits it provides.
Are you happy with the Foxconn tie-up? Will BlackBerry outsource all its device production to Foxconn?
As the BlackBerry Z3 demonstrated, Foxconn can help us deliver products to market faster and more cost-effectively. Foxconn is a very important partner for BlackBerry, but it is not an exclusive relationship.
Please share your views on the Indian market for enterprise, BBM, and machine-to-machine.
BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10) has seen more than 1,000 installations in India, which is significant considering that we only launched it in the beginning of 2013. We are confident that this momentum will continue.
As far as machine-to-machine TECHNOLOGY IS CONCERNED, India’s government is increasingly focused on the Internet of Things (IoT), given the country’s growing population and fast-growing internet penetration.
BlackBerry’s QNX embedded solution creates the building blocks for BlackBerry to deliver machine-to-machine technologies that will act as the backbone to the emerging era of the IoT.
Your views on increasing competition in the Indian enterprise market with Microsoft also pushing its devices and services?
BlackBerry’s history is rooted in security and our competitors can’t say the same. We offer the most reliable end-to-end secure communication platform, from the device, through the network and into the server level.
In India, we are aggressively targeting large, mid-level and small businesses alike. BES Express has helped us gain a strong foothold in the SME and BYOD addressable space.
Any time frame for the QNX launch in India?
QNX could certainly do well in India but we need customers who want to implement this technology. We can’t commit to timing but we are actively pursuing partnerships in the automotive and manufacturing space that will help us bring QNX to this market.
Your comment on BlackBerry’s results. What is the road for the company going forward?
I know we still have a lot of work to do. By the end of fiscal 2015, we are targeting break-even cash flow results. Within the next fiscal year, I also expect to turn a profit.
We are firmly on track to deliver on our financial objectives and commitments. For example, we’re bringing new handsets and the next generation BlackBerry Enterprise Service, BES12, to market by the end of the year.
Is BlackBerry looking at any more cost cutting measures?
BlackBerry required a significant restructuring to ensure the company’s future success. We are confident that the right resources are now in place for us to focus on our strengths, and that the biggest changes are behind us.
What are BlackBerry’s acquisition plans? Which areas would it be keen on for an acquisition?
BlackBerry has identified strategic growth areas that capitalise on our unique assets and capabilities.
The collaboration with NantHealth is an example of how we are making strategic investments in companies that will help us expand in industries that can benefit from the security, reliability and efficiency that BlackBerry products and services provide.
How will BlackBerry benefit from the recent tie up for Android apps with Amazon?
The partnership meets two very important needs for our customers. First, users will have access to more than 200,000 Android applications, including thousands of popular apps and games. Second, we can now focus our developers on creating apps for the enterprise market, where we see great potential.
This better aligns with our corporate strategy and will be important as we continue to grow our portfolio of enterprise offerings.
Well, lots there to digest, as ever John comes across as very cool headed and portrays the company as very much on track.
We expect to see momentum building from here as we hit September and the new phone releases in the West.