BlackBerry Has No Plans to Shutter Its Disaster of a Handset Business
Though the wheels have long since fallen off BlackBerry’s handset business, the company has no plans to scuttle it, even as it struggles to right itself under the leadership of interim CEO and executive chairman John Chen.
Chen, who was called in to run BlackBerry on a temporary basis while the company searches for a replacement for ousted CEO Thorsten Heins, said the foundering smartphone pioneer can reclaim its success, even while holding on to the loss-making business on which it has run aground.
“I know we have enough ingredients to build a long-term sustainable business,” Chen said in an interview with Reuters. “I’m doing this for the long term. I am going to rebuild this company.”
Rebuilding BlackBerry? That’s a potentially Sisyphean task, given the company’s recent history, which includes a nearly $1 billion write-down on the very handset business Chen proposes to keep — a business some analysts have said is “essentially worthless.” After once holding more than half of North America’s smartphone market, Gartner now estimates BlackBerry’s share at just 3.4 percent.
Can Chen turn around a business that decrepit? Perhaps. He has done it once already. For Sybase. When Chen joined the company as CEO in 1998, the company was nearly at death’s door. Some 13 years later, Chen had sold it to SAP for $5.8 billion — more than 15 times the company’s market cap when he took up the reins.