John Chen, Blackberry, Code Conference

Asa Mathat

Mobile


BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen used self-deprecating humor to convey a message to the skeptics who’ve counted the smartphone maker out in the market that it pioneered.

“We have a lot of problems,” Chen said in an appearance Wednesday at the inaugural Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “But it’s not dead.”


“I’m the most qualified person to do this, or the only one they found.”

Blackberry CEO John Chen on his job candidacy.


Chen acknowledged that there are parts of the company that were, well, sicker than he presumed when he joined BlackBerry in November 2013 as its chief executive. The positioning of the phones, for example, was weaker than he had initially thought — even as it held a stronger position its security and embedded systems in automobiles.

Asked to offer his prognosis for the company, which reported an annual loss of $5.9 billion for the year that ended March 1, Chen offered an upbeat diagnosis.

“I am quite confident that we’ll be able to save the patient,” Chen said.

Chen said the company’s future will hinge on successfully returning to its enterprise roots and developing products for specialized markets where security is valued, such as healthcare.

BlackBerry will also attempt to crack the Internet of Things market — selling its technologies to companies whose products would, in turn, be sold to consumers, Chen said. It will even make another run at the handset market, where its share is estimated at roughly one percent, according to researcher IDC.

“I am not by any shape of the imagination … giving up yet,” Chen said.




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