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John Chen Acknowledges BlackBerry Can't Compete Broadly for Developers

BlackBerry's CEO won't go as far as to say that the company will shift to Android, but won't rule it out either.

Asa Mathat

With its share of the global smartphone market headed below one percent, BlackBerry CEO John Chen acknowledged Wednesday that the company probably can’t compete head-on for developers with iOS and Android.

Chen said the company will continue to seek developers in key vertical markets, but said that BlackBerry is probably no longer in the position of being able to support a full ecosystem.

The most logical option would be for BlackBerry to more fully support Android. Already, Android apps can be tweaked to run on BlackBerry 10 handhelds. Chen said in a recent interview, 98 percent of Android apps can run on BlackBerry.

As to whether BlackBerry might be keen to do that, Chen didn’t rule it out. And a check from Google might make that even more attractive.

In general, Chen is taking BlackBerry back to its roots, looking to focus its device and server business on heavily regulated industries such as healthcare, government and financial services.

Chen says he thinks he can create more value for shareholders by keeping in the device business but said he isn’t emotionally tied to the business if he can’t find a way to make money. Ultimately, it will depend on whether customers actually like the phone ideas that Chen has in store.

Overall, he upped the odds of saving the company to 80-20. Chen got a lot of flack after characterizing BlackBerry’s survival at 50-50 earlier this year.

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

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