BlackBerry’s new CEO, John Chen has officially laid the groundwork for the future of BlackBerry. In a post on CNBC, Chen writes, “It’s been easy for competitors to promote negative stories about BlackBerry, focusing on the business of the past. But I’m not focused on who BlackBerry used to be — I’m focused on what BlackBerry will be today and in the future.”
Chen’s strategy starts by refining the company’s focus to four core business drivers: Enterprise Services, Messaging, QNX Embedded business, and the Devices business. Almost as if he’s saying, “you can’t get rid of BlackBerry this easily,” Chen outlines how the company has an enterprise customer base of 80,000 which is apparently three times the number of customers that other mobile-device management companies, including Good, AirWatch, and MobileIron, have combined. He was also quick to point out that BlackBerry is used by many governments around the world.
BlackBerry cannot just be replaced — we are the only MDM provider to obtain “Authority to Operate” on U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) networks. This means the DoD is only allowed to use BlackBerry. Across the globe, seven out of seven of the G7 governments are also BlackBerry customers.
When it came to Messaging, Mr. Chen said that in the last 60 days more than 40 million iOS and Android users downloaded and registered for BBM, the company’s flagship messaging product. Those aren’t bad numbers, but I wonder how many of them are actively using it. BlackBerry will also start monetizing BBM in the future. While Mr. Chen doesn’t provide specifics as to how they plan to do it, I’m going to guess you will be able to purchase add-ons like stickers and additional functionality of some kind.
The company’s plans for QNX, an operating system it acquired a few years back and that is the foundation of BlackBerry 10, appears to revolve around licensing it out. It seems like it will be powering the console of more cars among other things, which of course means licensing revenue for BlackBerry.
Lastly, the recently announced Foxconn partnership means that BlackBerry will be able to create faster product cycles and offer even more competitive prices for customers. Mr. Chen indicates that a lot of effort is going to be put into the design aspect of new BlackBerry devices, even going as far to say, it will be creating iconic designs.
At the end of the day, Chen wants to see a BlackBerry that is more nimble and agile. A BlackBerry that “can focus on what we do best — iconic design, world-class security, software development and enterprise-mobility management.”
This sounds like a great plan and all, but it certainly doesn’t scream “sexy.” That’s okay though, it doesn’t necessarily have to be, especially if you’re focused on the enterprise because it really does sound like BlackBerry is done with the consumer market.