BlackBerry CEO John Chen says the company’s cross-platform strategy and close relationship with mobile operators will be vital to increasing revenues at the Canadian manufacturer, which he claims is now “financially stable.”
Once considered the market leader in enterprise smartphones, sales of BlackBerry handsets have nosedived in recent years and the company is now focused on creating services for businesses to manage devices of all types.
At Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 in Barcelona, the firm has revealed details of several cross-platform initiatives, including the BlackBerry Experience Suite, further integration with Samsung Knox, a cloud-based version of BES 12 and updates to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).
He said he was “hopeful” about the company’s future, adding that last year it generated a small profit. He said security, management and messaging services, along with its QNX embedded systems business would help engineer a recovery.
“[Last year] We made some cash which is a big deal for us because we’ve been burning cash for some time,” said Chen.
“It will take a few years but while we’re going at it, we can make some money off it. I don’t have a lot of patience. This is a five year plan in which every year we make some money.”
Chen assumed the reigns at BlackBerry in November 2013 and says the support of mobile operators is essential to his recovery strategy. He expressed his pride that AT&T and Verizon in the US were stocking BlackBerry devices once again and that Vodafone was using SecurSmart technology protect voice calls.
In total, BlackBerry has relationships with 675 operators around the world, at least six of which have signed up for SIM-based billing, which lets operators add BlackBerry services to customer’s bills. For example, Sprint now offers BES 12 to its business users.
“For me the technology that will bring the most revenue opportunity is not only BES 12 but also the enhanced SIM-based billing,” said Chen. “I would not understate that because that is our connection to the carrier and it highlights our advantage because we can work with the carriers seamlessly. That will help both of us.”
Despite the focus on services, BlackBerry still makes phones, such as the BlackBerry Leap which debuted at MWC. Recent releases like the Passport and Classic have featured the QWERTY keyboard that made BlackBerry smartphones so desirable in the first place, but the Leap is a five-inch full touchscreen device targeted at the mid-range market.
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