Will John Chen Be Able To Turn Around Blackberry’s Fortunes?

By | April 11, 2014
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Pouring water over all speculations that Blackberry would cease to exist pretty soon, new CEO John Chen has said that there are no plans to sell the company – at least in the next few decades. We have here highlighted the systematic strategies that are being adopted by him, to make BB a brand name to reckon with once more.

 

When John Chen became the CEO of Blackberry last November, the worldwide market share of the RIM-powered company was a dismal 4.5% – nearly 20 times less than that of Android devices. Chen boasts of a more-than-decent professional track record, and had previously managed to bolster the profitability figures of Sybase – another troubled company. He has not taken long to start implementing his own strategies and business decisions at his new place of work too – and Blackberry fanboys/girls around the world are hopeful that the mobile company would finally be able to turn the corner. Here are some of the most noteworthy of John Chen’s strategies to revive Blackberry:

  1. Reassuring prospective buyers – With Blackberry plummeting steadily in the smartphone popularity charts, many feared that it was only a matter of time before the company packed up operations. John Chen has categorically stated that Blackberry is here for the long haul, and won’t be moving away from the mass market under any circumstance. It’s all about lending a sense of stability and confidence to Blackberry’s operations – and focusing on prospective buyers is, understandably, a smart move.

  2. Ending the partnership with T-Mobile – On the 25th of this month, the long-standing business partnership between Blackberry and T-Mobile will come to an end. The origins of the spat between the two companies can be traced to a mail campaign conducted by T-Mobile, in which it encouraged users to dump their BB devices in favor of the latest iPhones. Since then, T-Mobile has tried its best to mend relations, even a hefty monetary incentive for older Blackberry handsets has been offered – but Chen has made it clear that such ‘inappropriate’ actions won’t be pardoned or tolerated.

  3. Announcing the continuation of corporate discounts for existing users – Although this was officially announced by Mike Sievert (the Chief Marketing Officer of T-Mobile) – one suspects that Chen did have an hand in making the carrier company agree to this clause. While all present customers would receive the corporate discount plans as before, new buyers, however, won’t get this option.

  4. New deal with FoxConn – According to professionals from the field of mobile app development, the decision to outsource device manufacturing can turn out to be counter-productive. John Chen and his team are, however, willing to take the risk – and a 5-year agreement with FoxConn has already been entered into. The latter company, however, does not have any major device in production stage at present – ruling out immediate benefits.

  5. Return of the Blackberry Bold – In a bid to pick up the alarmingly low sales figures, the Blackberry Bold handset will be remanufactured and remarketed – in collaboration with FoxConn. Evidently, this is not a long-term fix to Blackberry’s problems, but can at least lessen the haemorrhage of funds during the next few quarters. In general, Chen has been maintaining that both old and new devices would be relied on, for reviving the company’s fortunes.

  6. Arrival of BBM on Windows Phone – Blackberry Messenger is already available on iPhones and Android handsets (although the response has not been earth-shattering!) – and the company has plans to provide it on Windows Phone too. The announcement was made by Jeff Gadway, the marketing chief of Blackberry, a couple of months back. Whether BBM indeed becomes successful in competing with the popular instant messaging apps developed by mobile app companies for Windows Phone remains to be seen.

  7. Putting up a brave face after the Blackberry 10’s lukewarm performance – Blackberry 10, the all-new mobile OS which arrived in 2013, was expected to show light at the end of the long tunnel for the company. However, the proprietary operating system has not done well – with the Blackberry Z10 model turning out to be a major disappointment. Chen has not been bogged down by the setback though, and maintains that the company is still on the right track, and by 2016, profits will start to be generated. The new CEO is sure talking the talk…now let’s see whether he can walk the walk!

  8. Big things are expected from Blackberry 12 – Chen is keen to ensure that the flop show of Blackberry 10 does not have an encore. That is precisely why the soon-to-be-launched Blackberry 12 platform has been customized exclusively for high-end, more appealing devices. It is expected that the handsets running on BB 12 would support more applications – and professional mobile app developers would, once again, find Blackberry profitable.

  9. Strategy to monetize BBM via sponsored ads – With almost 90 million active monthly users of Blackberry Messenger, it makes a lot of sense to monetize this application. The new CEO and his colleagues have announced that ads through sponsored channels would be displayed on BBM, to ensure a steady revenue from the latter. Of course, if these ads hamper general user-experience, things might turn counter-productive!

  10. More emphasis on enterprise devices – Within a month of John Chen taking office, it was announced that there has been a significant increase in the installation figures of Blackberry Enterprise Server 10 (BES 10). The company has plans to work on this, and chances of Blackberry 12 being modeled as an enterprise-only platform cannot be ruled out.

 

Chen also plans to cash in on the successful BB7 software setup, by launching an innovative Blackberry Classic keypad during the second half of 2014. This keypad would have a trackpad and a belt, and would share many of the key mechanisms of BB7. Cost-management is yet another issue that the new CEO plans to do in a more efficient manner. Blackberry won’t become the preferred choice of general smartphone-users or mobile application development experts within the next couple of months or so – but Chen’s strategies might just bear fruit over the long-run!

 

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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