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BlackBerry CEO John Chen: We’re Going Back to Our Enterprise Roots

A loss of focus cost the company, Chen says.

Asa Mathat

BlackBerry CEO John Chen admits that one of the things that contributed to BlackBerry’s decline was that it lost sight of its audience, building products for consumers and enterprise users but not necessarily serving the needs of either. But the company has a renewed focus now.

“We’re going back to our enterprise roots,” Chen said onstage at the Code Conference. “I don’t really want to comment on past management decisions, but we cast our net a little too broad. At the same time, we haven’t really added value to the enterprise space.”

As a result, Chen said, it cost BlackBerry to unconsciously fight the BYOD (bring your own device) movement, and that was the wrong move.

Going forward, the company plans to focus on building products — phones, security systems, an app ecosystem, servers and more — that address the needs of its core audience.

Chen mentioned that the company is working on a handset designed for certain verticals, like the medical profession, and is heavily tied to relevant applications.

But how do you get developers to create apps for a dying platform?

“We’re working on some of that stuff,” said Chen. “We’re going to have to tie ourself in some way — and I don’t know what the innovative way is yet — to preserve the BlackBerry value add of security, productivity and collaboration.”

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