Is Chen Dumping BlackBerry Handset Business?


“John Chen would consider dumping handset business” and “BlackBerry CEO would consider handset sell”

These are the headlines hitting our fellow blogs right now. I’m sure by tomorrow, the headlines will be, “BlackBerry is back up for sale”

So, is John Chen done with cell phones? Is he doing away with the handset business? There is a very simple answer. No he is not. I do not know why our fellow ‘Fan Sites’ are choosing this headline to go with. I watched the same video interview they did, and I walked away with a completely different point of view.

Please, watch the video here, where John Chen sat down with Reuters and see how you take it.

Some things that stood out for me,

John Chen states, that this is “not a handset turn around, it’s an end to end solution” He is telling us here that the success of the company is not based entirely on handsets, something which BlackBerry fans know and understand. There is much more to BlackBerry than just handsets. However, press tends to only look at the handset business, and will focus on the losses on the handset side, while not looking at the wins by QNX and the enterprise side of BlackBerry. John Chen is intent on making the whole company profitable. Of being an end to end solution. And we know what is on one end of that solution right? Handsets.
Chen is very upfront about the fact that the handset business needs to make money. He’s said all along all parts of BlackBerry needs to make money, and he states that he plans sometime between now and next year make money in the handset business.
The interviewer asks very pointedly “What happens if you don’t?”
Chen gives a great answer, one that shows his intent that they will in fact make money, but gives a very real answer of what could happen if the don’t: “Well if we really couldn’t find a way to make the handsets profitable,” at which point he stops himself momentarily to say, “there will be a way to make the handsets profitable, then maybe we’ll just have somebody else build more and more handsets and I’ll build less and less handsets. There’s got to be a way to make our handset because our operating system and our software technology is so strong, if I just licensed software technology I’d do well. We will be in the handset business.”
To me, this does not sound like a man that is considering getting rid of the handset business. He’s made it perfectly clear that he thinks it is not only possible to make money in the handset business, but that he is planning on making money on handsets between now and next year. But she asked him, what if they don’t, and he gave an answer, which is something we all expect anyway, to further use partners such as Foxconn to manufacturer more and more phones, and they make less and less. We all understand the financial gains of having Foxconn handle the manufacturing. Honestly, I don’t know why they are just not handing off all manufacturing to Foxconn, except it is obvious BlackBerry wishes to continue manufacturing, and many on staff I for sure would rather have a BlackBerry manufactured phone, as long as they can make money doing it. It appears John Chen believes that they can, and will shortly. He remarks that “even if I just licensed software technology, I’d do well” and to me, that shows that he knows what he has in BlackBerry 10. He knows that one way or another, he will make money with this product, but more importantly, he has a plan to make it happen, and make it happen soon.
But our blogging friends seem to think this means that he is looking to offload the handset business. Personally, I think that is a stretch. Perhaps there wasn’t enough drama in the headlines today? Perhaps they didn’t reach their hit goal and knew that these headlines would bring in the traffic. I am unsure, but I don’t think headlines such as these, are doing anything to help our brand become the success it is deserving of.


Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs. Former BlackBerry Elite. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.