My opinion? John Chen is great. At the time he arrived, he was the best thing that could have happened to BlackBerry, and I believe we still have BlackBerry here now, because of him. But not everyone believes that way. A short time ago, I ran across someone from another BlackBerry site that was making comments such as ‘worst CEO ever’. I invited him to do a point-counterpoint with me. That didn’t happen. He offered to appear on a podcast and do it there. I thank him for doing that, because it finally got the UTB Blogcast started. However, he never did appear. The offer is still open, however now that site has changed format and I suppose he’s no longer interested. Overall, I was pretty sad about it. I was looking forward to that discussion.
One of our readers gave me an opportunity to do a similar post today. ATInsider commented on my ‘BlackBerry Shifts Resources‘ today with a comment that got my hackles up. No offense ATInsider, thank you for commenting, I appreciate it. Reading your post, I can tell you care about the future of BlackBerry and have an emotional reaction to what you’re seeing. I completely understand having the strength of conviction, however, I am on the opposite side of the fence. I considered responding in the comments, but then I went on and read the thread that you linked, and I felt like this was a discussion that needed more attention. So allow me to respond here.
I shall post ATInsider’s comment in entirety here, but I will be interjecting my comments inside it, should make for a smoother read. I’m even including the link to the thread at the other site, as there are a few things I want to speak to there as well. Let’s get started.
I understand the Software push such as IoT and securing all devices and OS’s. But he’s done some major harm to BlackBerry and he continues to Ignore his Customers and those that are curious about the BB10 Platform that want something other than the likes of Android and iOS.
I do not for one second believe that John Chen has ignored his customers. As the person responsible for what I believe will be one of the greatest turnaround stories in business, he is PRIORITIZING customers. He is prioritizing customers that will make that turnaround happen. And those priority customers, those that will spend the money BlackBerry needs to come back to full form, is not the consumer market. It’s not even the handset market. However, while shifting direction and going after those customers, he hasn’t left the rest of us behind. We have new phones. We have updates. When it became obvious we here in the US and some other locations would not be able to get these phones from our carriers, he found another avenue to get them to us through Amazon. Are we the consumer getting the most attention? Of course not. That would be bad business. But are we getting ignored? No. Not at all.
John Chen Major Mistakes ever since he came on board as CEO of BlackBerry: Not in order of importance. They are all important.
1) Garbage BB10 Hardware MARKETING. Then blames the platform for crap sales.
I don’t disagree with poor marketing. That’s always been an issue. And I will speak a little more about that down the list. However blaming the platform for ‘crap’ sales? Not at all. He has never done this. Not once. He recognized that the BlackBerry brand had lost its luster. He even asked the BlackBerry fans to help restore it. John Chen stands behind the BlackBerry product, and is realistic about where the issues lay.
2) No High End Full Touch BB10 phone. Yes comes out with a 2011 Spec’ed Leap.
One of the biggest complaints I consistently hear. And one I disagree with wholeheartedly. I’ve had this very argument within our own UTB group, and I can assure you there are many here that disagree with me. In saying that, I think this is a ridiculous complaint. My opinion, a high end full touch BlackBerry would have been a total and complete loss. The Z30, as great a phone as it is, did not do well in sales. Why? I think there are many reasons, that all boil down to, BlackBerry cannot yet compete in the full touch market. The full touch market is full of flagship phones from every OEM, most of who are currently losing their pants in their mobile divisions. BlackBerry, without marketing (again, more on this later) and with a tiny marketshare, was to join the spec race and win in this segment? No. That’s unrealistic thinking. I believe BlackBerry used a strategy that is brilliant. Take the risk on a high spec phone in the one segment which they dominate. The physical keyboard phone. There is quite literally no competition for them there. And they can sell expensive phones to us diehards that want that physical keyboard. We’re willing to pay for it, especially when you can’t get it much cheaper somewhere else.
Imagine, Passport specs on a physical keyboard device. Who else makes that? Nobody. And perhaps some of those former BlackBerry users that still love a keyboard that left BlackBerry due to specs not competing will come back. And honestly, a few did. But would those that left BlackBerry and want a full touch come back to black if the BlackBerry full touch was quite a bit more expensive than another platform’s equally specced out phone? I don’t believe so.
3) Destroying BB10 Development and screwing all BB10 Dev’s. That was Foolish.
Someone read James’ tirade and believed it. Let’s make this perfectly clear once and for all, BlackBerry DID NOT shaft native devs. BlackBerry did what it had to in order to get apps. This is a topic that deserves more attention at a later date.
4) Signing up with Amazon for Android Apps. Yes the apps we no longer get that most want.
As stated above, BlackBerry took action to alleviate the number one complaint about BB10. And while a few companies have chose to block us from apps (I’m looking at you Netflix and Instagram) our app situation has greatly improved. John Chen has no power over other companies choosing to deny BlackBerry users. Period.
5) Releasing the most innovative Smartphone on the Planet with Zero Marketing. i.e.: Passport
Agree with you about marketing. However, why waste money on marketing when the public can’t walk in to a store and pick one up? That would be a true waste. Here in the US there was quite literally no way to see a Passport, much less purchase one and walk away with it. Advertising dollars are best spent when someone can see the ad, then go to the store and purchase it. Amazon and Shop BlackBerry was a Godsend to American BlackBerry fans for quite some time, however your non-fan will not purchase a phone without getting to at least try it out in a store first. The focus at that point, should not have been on advertising, but on getting the phones in stores. And I believe it was, and we are now seeing the phones arrive. AT&T carries the Passport and Classic, Verizon has the Classic. T-Mobile has the Classic and will be getting the Passport. And guess what’s happening? We are seeing the beginning of marketing. And I suspect, that with the arrival of the slider, we shall see a marketing blitz that we fans have wished to see for years now.
6) Not releasing a 10″ BB10 Tablet, the same tablet Government wanted, but were forced to go with iPads due to BBRY’s negligence & incompetence
The government didn’t want this. The public didn’t want this. The BlackBerry fans wanted this. And not all of us. I don’t like big tablets. They lose the portability of a tablet. In fact, now that I have a Passport, I don’t want a tablet at all. However, there’s a group of BlackBerry fans that expect an all touch phone, a new tablet, BlackBerry to buy off Instagram and Netflix. I can understand the ‘want’, but do they really believe this is the key to success? I don’t. I believe at this point, it’s too great a risk.
7) Ignoring the consumer market, which in turn forces the Enterprise to ignore BB10 Hardware. ( Enterprise are Consumers and Visa Versa, people talk)
This I already spoke about at the beginning.
8) A lot more, don’t get me started.
Oh that thread! Many items repeated, but a few I’d like to highlight.
I also like the idea another poster had on another thread. About having 2 HW divisions, one for Consumers and one for Enterprise. Hold them both to the fire and make them perform. Each doing what it takes to more forward.
Spending more resources? Really? BlackBerry is streamlining, and now we want duplicate departments? Perhaps with Apple or Google money, this may be a great idea. For a company in the middle of a turnaround, this is the fantasy of someone who either doesn’t understand, or refuses to aknowledge where BlackBerry has been for the last few years.
I agree 100%! However, how do WE mobilize to help BlackBerry?
I like BB10 and I don’t want to see if disappear. There’s a lot of complaining but no campaigning (no, I’m not related to Jesse Jackson). If BlackBerry had a way that we could upload videos testimonials for viewing on their YouTube channel, I’d do it!
I love this go-getter attitude. And another poster in response to him;
You need to check out UTB. Those guys aren’t just fans. They make it happen. United Through BlackBerry check it out.
I’ve got to say, I agree!
When a leader of a nation steps in with a term of 4-5 years he/she is expected to shift the tide of a nation. Chen has been in for 21 months now. He is expected to start delivering results and have something to show for it.
We have a lot to show. Namely, BlackBerry is still here. And returned to profitability. That is pretty damned important.
His job was to come in and try to stop the bleeding and turn profit for share holders…doesn’t matter if it’s hardware or software the share holders don’t care…I believe releasing high end phones that would not sell just because a few old Crack berry fans want them would have been death in months….i believe he is slowing turning company around for shareholders…be real folks no one can topple iPhone with the release of a single high end touch especially with poor ecosystem that was in place long before Chen….if the z10 or z30 with bb10 had been released as answer to iPhone instead of the storm
..things would be different cause they still had market share
I find a lot of logic in this comment.
To be honest, I didn’t finish reading the thread, but in the first page, there was an overwhelming demand for marketing. And it IS needed. Badly! However, things needed to be put in place for any marketing to work. And I believe we are nearly there.
Of course, ATInsider’s comments are his opinions. My responses are my opinions. The posts in that thread are the opinions of those posters. What I’m looking for from this post is not angry replies back, not comments about the other site, or the calling out of trolls, what I’m interested in is your opinion. We can see the opinion of CB readers in the thread above. What say you UTB readers?