BlackBerry CEO talks plans for future, engaging customers, and budget phones

Being the CEO of a smartphone company may sound like a dream job to many of us, but there’s a big difference between running a firm seeing record sales or even a startup chock full of potential, and heading-up a company with sales that are in decline. Last fall, BlackBerry shuffled its leadership amidst talk of a possible buyout, bringing on John Chen to take reins. As BlackBerry introduced its new Z3 to Indonesia last week (above: shoppers line up to buy the Z3), Chen sat down with The Wall Street Journal to talk a little about being a “turnaround CEO,” budget-priced smartphones, and where he wants his company going from here.

The Z3, priced around $190, is certainly more affordable that previous BlackBerry models, but Chen is clear that there’s a lower limit to how far BlackBerry can push prices while still delivering a quality handset; he dismisses the idea of any sub-$100 BB phones for the foreseeable future. That said, the company still has interests in producing some higher-end but still affordable devices, and would consider models that might be priced around $400.

As for his leadership, Chen describes a desire to keep moving, pushing his management through two week cycles of going from problem, to analysis, and finally to a decision. One key, he describes, is actually making sure those decisions get made, rather than letting them hang up in the air – “a nondecision is always wrong” – as well being quite clinical in his actions and not letting emotions unnecessarily get in the way.

Chen also talks about the markets BlackBerry is going for, and is clear that despite the company’s reputation as the enterprise smartphone platform, individual consumers are also hugely important. Specifically, in developing markets (like Indonesia, which is getting the Z3), Chen says “today’s consumer is tomorrow’s enterprise,” and believes that end-consumer interest can ultimately help build BlackBerry’s enterprise success.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!