While the article outlines all that we already know about John Chen’s headship of our favourite mobile solutions company, there are the seven questions which Katie posed to John Chen regarding the strategic vision for BlackBerry’s future. I have posted the link to the article for your viewing pleasure, however wished to highlight several key elements of Chen’s answers in order for us to see the difference between what people want to hear and what we need to understand.
- The future cannot be dictated by the present.
The first question was about the next step in the turn around. Chen clearly states that BlackBerry has achieved positive cash flow. This is important because when people look at stocks (more about stocks later) they see a decline which is interpreted as cash bleed. Stocks are about the money made by investors, not the company. BlackBerry is a company which is NOT bleeding cash. Outsiders looking into BlackBerry are waiting to see a great money making-machine. As Chen states, the next step is about stabilising revenue. What this means is that the sources of revenue must be constant. Handsets are a fluctuating revenue source and must be treated as unreliable when setting out a budget. Just ask HTC. The questions which Katie asked of Chen are clearly aimed to provoke a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer regarding handset profitability for the consumer market. The future of success for BlackBerry cannot be measured by the current success standards of consumer handset saturation. BlackBerry’s future lies in a different direction. Are handsets important to BlackBerry? What say you Chen?
Hardware continues to be a valuable part of BlackBerry’s end-to-end platform.
What does that mean in terms of BlackBerry’s end goals?
That said, there is an incredible opportunity for BlackBerry to capture a greater share of enterprise revenues and service those customers who depend on the enterprise-grade mobility solutions that we provide. We have shifted some resources internally to focus on security and software. And, we will continue to be the choice for individuals who want to get the most out of their smartphones to keep their information protected and maximize their productivity, communication and collaboration.
So BlackBerry are focused on solutions. Solutions for everyone who wish to get the most out of their mobile communications. That’s the company they will be. Not a ‘mobile phone maker’.
- BlackBerry aims to acquire, not be acquired.
Irrespective of the attempt to focus on the perceived short-comings of the company, Chen’s main point was clear. BlackBerry is acquiring companies and will not be acquired. Chen talks about the companies acquired recently;
We recently announced plans to acquire AtHoc, which extends our reach in mass communication and collaboration and will be beneficial as we expand to connect and secure a range of endpoints. Like our acquisitions of WatchDox, Movirtu and Secusmart, AtHoc will further strengthen our security capabilities, which are unmatched by our competitors. And customers are taking notice.
A business which is looking to sell or be overtaken by a bigger company does not add companies to its portfolio. Katie finishes her interview with that very question. Chen states that the company is achieving it’s goals and will be interested in working with other companies and do whatever it takes to drive the business forward. Some would see this as a capitulation that BlackBerry are interested in being bought. In other words ‘he didn’t say no!’ I also note that he didn’t say yes. Which tells me that he means what he says. BlackBerry isn’t for sale and is looking to bring in organisations which will only make BlackBerry stronger and stand out from the crowd.
- The goal is not to set enterprise against consumers, but recognise that business is business wherever it is found.
We are focusing on what we do best, and that is security, privacy and enterprise mobility management.
That’s the end game. The world is no longer black and white on the differences between consumer and enterprise. It is consumers who work in enterprises and with the BYOD phenomenon being the rule and not the exception, enterprises are dealing with a wide range of devices coming from the consumer world. At the heart of all of this will be BlackBerry. Your devices will be secured by BlackBerry, privacy maintained by BlackBerry and work mobility maintained by BlackBerry whether you have an iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry made handset.
- Wise investors see the strategic benefits of the long game.
The question of stocks arose with Katie stating a 30% decrease in stock value and asking what investors may be missing. Chen seems to not respond to the question by restating the strategy. What Chen is really saying here is that when investors listen to the spin about a company on the stock market, and not investigating the company for themselves, they miss out on opportunities for financial growth. If investors are missing something here, then all they need to do is hear the strategy, listen to the positive progress and know that this company is on track to deliver its promises.
BlackBerry with Chen at the helm has a strong future. An integrated future and John Chen has articulated that well.