BlackBerry boss talks Android and abandoning phones

BlackBerry's new boss has spoken out about his plans to save the troubled company.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
2 min read

BlackBerry's new boss has spoken out about his plans to save the troubled company, calling questions about BlackBerry abandoning handsets "ridiculous" and stalling talk of a switch to Android.

Speaking to CrackBerry, John Chen identifies a "need to preserve the reason why BlackBerry is around," and when asked about Android cautioned "jumping to anything is inappropriate."

"My job is really to figure and focus on all the strategic things that the company is facing immediately, today," says Chen, "and also in the longer term -- three, five years out."

Chen was named this week as interim CEO of the troubled Canadian company, replacing outgoing boss Thorsten Heins. Describing himself as "a BlackBerry user for a very, very long time," Chen is the former CEO of Sybase and has served on the board of the New York Stock Exchange, Wells Fargo and Disney, as well as holding advisory roles in the US government.

The appointment is only temporary, however. Chen himself says "on a day-to-day basis I eventually will really need a good, solid CEO… I'll think through and listen to everybody else and what their advice is and then I'll decide how interim is interim."

Who should apply? Chen says he is "looking for a software person… somebody who understands the services side of the equation also... I’m looking for somebody who can help me with really reaching more people… I don’t think I’m looking for a tech person."

Ongoing uncertainty 

Having returned SyBase to profitability and sold it for $5.8bn, the new BlackBerry boss "has history in turning around a struggling company," says industry expert Daniel Gleeson of IHS. "Mr. Chen comes to Blackberry not only with experience, but with industry know-how as well."

However, "The change in leadership and ongoing uncertainty over the company's future directly affects its ability to grow its enterprise services business," Gleeson continues. "Large enterprises place a high value on stability when investing in their IT systems... uncertainty over Blackberry's future will at the very least delay some purchasing decisions and possibly even lose some sales for Blackberry."

Should BlackBerry adopt Android? How can the ailing company turn its fortunes around and combat the iPhone and Android? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or lay out your rescue plan on our Facebook page.