Info-tech

We want to build phones for specific verticals: BlackBerry CEO

Thomas K Thomas Barcelona | Updated on March 12, 2018

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On Valentines’ Day John Chen completed 90 days as the Executive Chairman and CEO of BlackBerry. But he is still long way from fulfilling his mandate to get consumers to love BlackBerry phones again.

Since he took over, Chen has taken a number of tough decisions to resurrect the device company, including a renewed focus on enterprise and a new strategy on BlackBerry Messenger. Business Line was part of a select media round table with Chen where he spoke about his game plan. Excerpts:

How is the Bring-your-own device (BYOD) strategy shaping up?

About 30 per cent of the industry comprises companies or governments controlling what their staff could bring in as devices. The other 70 per cent are on BYOD. The focus on 30 per cent is high but we don’t want to lose out on the other part and that’s part of our enterprise strategy.

The two devices announced today are entry level phones. Will these be your flagship products this year?

We are working on a high-end device but I cannot show you at this point of time.

What is your strategy on wearable devices?

I don’t have a plan for wearable devices. Given the fact we focus on enterprise and what we do best is things like security, we focus on building solid phones geared towards high-end devices. We will make it competitive. But we will not do a $75 phone because that’s not where our focus is. I want to build phones for specific verticals, for example, a phone for use in healthcare industry.

How do you ensure security for third party apps?

In BlackBerry World, we certify third party apps. We go through the apps because security is top priority. That’s our current thinking and that’s what we are doing.

Does the Facebook deal with WhatsApp raise hope for BBM?

I have to thank Facebook. I am glad BBM is expanding and we have large followers. We have 85 million monthly active users. One good thing with BBM is that its user base has high engagement time; its base is professional users. We think there’s value in that user base and this creates value for the company.

Published on February 25, 2014

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