BlackBerry boss says there’s a 50 percent chance things won’t work out

BlackBerry boss John Chen said recently he thinks there’s a 50 percent chance his team’s turnaround plan might not work out. That’s an incredibly frank statement from the head of a company, though overall Chen seems rather upbeat about the way things are going just now.

His comments came in an interview conducted at last week’s MWC event in Barcelona with the Financial Times’ Paul Taylor. BlackBerry’s new boss gave a broad assessment of the company’s current situation and strategy, highlighting the need for his team to remain positive while working toward providing “good products and service.”

Asked whether he thought the Waterloo, Ontario company could ever return to the strong position it once held in the mobile market, Chen said simply that “if we do it correctly, it could be a dominant player again,” citing Apple as an example of a company that managed the feat of turning things around.

While his overall tone in the interview was optimistic, Chen was also realistic on the subject of the company’s future, with the new CEO under no illusions as to the enormity of the challenges that lie ahead.

He told the FT there was a “50/50 chance” that his team’s strategy to get BlackBerry back on track might not work out, adding, “It’s all about execution now.” Chen said his immediate aim for the company was to break even in the next four quarters and then to return it to profitability by March 2016.

Things have certainly been moving fast at BlackBerry since the former Sybase boss took over at the company four months ago, with a reorganized team at the top, the announcement of new phones and a major partnership with Foxconn, BBM expanding fast (with revenue-generating ads in the pipeline), and some significant successes with its QNX division all hitting the headlines in recent months.

With Chen’s coin currently spinning in the air, who knows which way it’s going to fall.

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