John Chen, CEO, BlackBerry
John Chen, CEO, BlackBerry

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has rushed online to assure owners of the company’s smart phones that it has no short term plans to get out of the handset manufacturing business.

In a blog published this morning, he said an interview by the Reuters news agency quoting him as saying he’d consider selling the devices business “were taken out of context.”

“I want to assure you that I have no intention of selling off or abandoning this business any time soon.‎ 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.

“BlackBerry is not a handset-only company. We offer an end-to-end solution and devices are an important part of that equation. That’s why we’re complementing our Devices business with other revenue streams from enterprise services and software, to messaging. We’re also investing in emerging solutions such as Machine to Machine technologies that will help to power the backbone of the Internet of Things.

“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.‎

“Rest assured, we continue to fight. We have not given up and we are not leaving the devices business.”

In the Reuters article Chen was quoted as saying he’d think about getting out of the handset making business if it remains unprofitable. “If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business,” he said.

BlackBerry has slashed the number of handset component suppliers to cut its costs and signed a five-year agreement with China’s Foxconn to completely make devices to its specifications. Its first device, for Asian markets, will be released this summer. Meanwhile BlackBerry continues to make the Z-, Q-series handsets running the new BB 10 operating system and has revived production of the older BlackBerry Bold.

A number of industry analysts have said BlackBerry (TSX: T) has lost so many subscribers and revenue that it has to follow the model of Google and stick to an operating system as well as its BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) mobile device management software and secure network.

That, of course, depends on other handset makers first agreeing to put the BlackBerry OS on their handsets.

Some handset makers — Samsung and Huawei, for example — have adopted a multiple operating system strategy, making devices that run on Android and Windows Phone. So far, however, despite efforts by Chen and predecessor Thorsten Heins, no other manufacturer has agreed to put BB OS on their phones.



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