BlackBerry CEO: We'll focus on enterprise, BBM in 2014

The latest executive to sit at the top of BlackBerry goes back to the drawing board for what could be the beleaguered phone maker's last grasp at survival.

John Chen
John Chen speaks to Bloomberg TV in May 2011. Bloomberg video/Screenshot by CNET

All of us have resolutions and things we'd like to work better at in 2014, but there are few who have as tough a road ahead as BlackBerry's latest chief executive officer, John Chen.

Getting the ball rolling early on a Monday morning when many in the tech world are still on vacation if not slowly meandering back into the office, Chen penned a memo for CNBC outlining the beleaguered phone maker's revised strategy.

Bottom line: BlackBerry will concentrate on what it already does best, likely shuttling away any rumors or hopes (if there are any) about new consumer sector projects.

Acknowledging (in a very understated manner) that BlackBerry is "facing challenging circumstances," Chen highlighted three units where the mobile company will reinforce its efforts: enterprise services, BlackBerry Messenger (especially for iOS and Android users), and the QNX operating system.

Chen hinted we'll see more of that last item next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but he emphasized BlackBerry's leadership with the government crowd in mobile device management.

Here's more from Chen:

Many in the regulated industries -- those with the most stringent security needs -- still depend solely on BlackBerry to secure their mobile infrastructure. For governments, BlackBerry cannot just be replaced -- we are the only MDM provider to obtain "Authority to Operate" on U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) networks. This means the DoD is only allowed to use BlackBerry. Across the globe, seven out of seven of the G7 governments are also BlackBerry customers.

Asserting that BlackBerry is already the leader in MDM, Chen cited that BlackBerry has already signed more than 80,000 companies as MDM customers.

Thus, Chen said that BlackBerry will be continuing to push harder internationally, notably by leveraging its Foxconn ties for new smartphones that will feature "iconic design, world-class security, software development and enterprise-mobility management." Such a move reinforces Chen's previous decision not to scrap the smartphone department altogether.

To recall, the former Sybase head was appointed to the CEO chair back in November, replacing Thorsten Heins. That was after BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, co-founders and co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis resigned from their posts separately.

The Canadian corporation's revolving door of CEOs, not to mention falling stock prices and weak sales numbers quarter after quarter, have caused investors, analysts, consumers, and even employees to lose faith in the company. Such a pattern is reminiscent of many companies on the brink of complete collapse.

But in the tech world, that leadership problem sparks memories that could draw comparisons to Yahoo before Marissa Mayer stepped in back in the summer of 2012. Based on the improved stock prices as well as much more positive media and analyst coverage in contrast to the previous four CEOs in four years, Yahoo executed what might have been assumed before as an impossible comeback.

Looking at Chen's memo, he thinks the same could ring true for BlackBerry in the new year.

This story originally appeared as "BlackBerry CEO: 2014 strategy will rely on enterprise, BBM, QNX" on ZDNet.

 

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