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BlackBerry CEO John Chen Insists Turnaround Is Ahead of Schedule

Last quarter's profitability was no blip, Chen said.

Asa Mathat

Even as outsiders question whether BlackBerry has changed enough, CEO John Chen insists that the company’s turnaround is running ahead of his own two-year plan.

“The company financially is stabilizing,” Chen said. “We made a little bit of money last quarter.”

After many, many quarters of burning through its reserves, Chen said, BlackBerry generated cash and turned a slim profit last quarter, excluding certain items. And Chen predicted that trend will continue.

“We’re going to be making more money,” he said. “We’re going to be generating more cash.”

Chen also said the company expects its revenue to stabilize over the coming year.

However, he said he couldn’t say more given the company is in a quiet period ahead of its next earnings report.

“We are a little ahead of our two-year turnaround and strategy,” Chen said at a briefing with reporters outside of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The company talked about its plans for four new devices this year, including a $275, five-inch, all-touch phone called the Leap that is coming this spring. It also offered just a glimpse of a curved screen model with a slide-out keyboard that will come later this year.

BlackBerry pulled a similar move in Barcelona last year, flashing a glimpse of the Z3 and discussing plans for the Classic. BlackBerry still gets three-quarters of its revenue from hardware.

On that front, Chen noted that Verizon and AT&T have recently resumed carrying BlackBerry phones in store. “It’s a big deal for us,” Chen said. “We’ve been disconnected from them on the retail side for a while.”

Last week, BlackBerry announced plans to bring many of the popular features from the BlackBerry handhelds onto iOS, Android and Windows. It also announced a cloud version of its server software for managing mobile devices.

Chen has set a goal of generating $500 million in software revenue this year. “We’re committed to make software as a business,” he said, adding that the company hopes to manage all manner of devices — basically anything with an IP address, Chen said.

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