BlackBerry is set to release earnings data on Friday for the three-month period ending November 30, the first quarter under interim CEO John Chen following the departure of Thorsten Heins in November.
While many executives at the troubled company may well be bracing themselves in anticipation of some less-than-stellar figures, the week at least got off to a good start with the news that the mobile maker has scored an order with a multinational car manufacturer for 10,000 handsets. The development came at the same time as the company announced it had hired a new head for its global enterprise services business.
PSA Peugeot Citroen is set to deploy the Z10 smartphones for its operations in France and Spain, and is also shifting over to BlackBerry’s latest mobile management system, the Waterloo, Ontario company announced this week.
Eric Marchand, head of telecom at PSA Peugeot Citroen, said the platform suited its needs “in terms of integration, security, connectivity and price.”
Marchand’s confidence in BlackBerry’s ability to maintain its services at the current level isn’t shared by the likes of analyst firm Gartner, which caused controversy back in October by suggesting corporate customers stop using the BlackBerry platform by April 2014, or at the least start considering alternative systems. The Z10 maker responded by saying it was committed to delivering “the most secure and powerful mobile management solutions and smartphones” to its customers, and that the conclusions the analyst firm drew with regards to the impact of recent developments concerning BlackBerry were “purely speculative”.
Last month an attempt by the company to sell itself off ended without success, with it instead agreeing to receive a strategic investment from a group led by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial.
BlackBerry has had a torrid few years, with its US market share tanking in the face of competition from Android handsets and the iPhone. The backbone of its business – contracts with government agencies and corporate customers – has also come under huge pressure, with many organizations choosing to switch to rival platforms in recent years. Its new BB10 OS and handsets – launched at the start of the year – has failed to capture the imagination of consumers, with Windows Phone gradually establishing itself as the third most popular mobile platform behind Android and iOS.
While the Peugeot Citroen deal is unlikely to mark the start of any kind of major turnaround in BlackBerry’s fortunes, it does indicate there’s still interest from some players in big business, a situation its incoming head of global enterprise services will be keen to exploit.
Chen attempted to reassure customers about the state of BlackBerry at the start of this month when he said the company was “very much alive” and “here to stay,” at the same time stating four areas of future focus: handsets, enterprise mobility management solutions, cross-platform messaging, and embedded systems.