On Wednesday Reuters published an article that suggested BlackBerry CEO John Chen was willing to sell the company’s hardware business — the part of the firm that builds and sells smartphones. “If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business,” Chen reportedly said, according to Reuters. The CEO published a blog post on Thursday noting that his quote was taken out of context.
“I want to assure you that I have no intention of selling off or abandoning this business any time soon,” Chen said. “I know you still love your BlackBerry devices. I love them too and I know they created the foundation of this company. Our focus today is on finding a way to make this business profitable.” Chen explained that BlackBerry isn’t just a hardware company, though, and that he’s trying to complement the hardware side of his business with new revenue from software and services that BlackBerry sells to the enterprise. Additionally, BlackBerry has started to monetize other platforms, like BBM.
While Chen’s statement is reassuring to consumers who want new BlackBerry devices, the company’s fourth quarter earnings report showed us, yet again, why software and services are more important on the firm’s current balance sheet than hardware sales. After all, older devices are still far outselling the company’s new smartphones.
“We will do everything in our power to continue to rebuild this business and deliver devices with the iconic keyboard and other features that you have come to expect from this brand… We have not given up and we are not leaving the devices business.” In February, BlackBerry unveiled the Q20 with a full QWERTY keyboard, and the company also has plans to bring back its older BlackBerry Bold smartphone, which runs BlackBerry 7 instead of the newer BlackBerry 10 operating system.
The Waterloo, Canada-based firm still has a ways to go before the ship is back on course, and Chen’s current goal is to start turning a profit by 2015.
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