BlackBerry CEO questions whether brand can ever be iconic again

BlackBerry has fallen — and whether it can get up again is something even CEO John Chen is questioning.

After discussing his vision for the firm’s future in a recent interview with Bloomberg, he reflected on what had already been achieved before asking himself if BlackBerry could ever again reach the heights it once did. His answer must be troubling to BlackBerry fans: “That’s something I need to chew on, I don’t know the answer.”

Chen isn’t a fortune teller, so we wouldn’t expect him to predict what could happen in the future, but it’s telling that he didn’t say it was a goal, or even a dream, to become the BlackBerry that many fondly remember. Instead, he played down the prospects of BlackBerry returning to former glories, hinting that it simply wasn’t part of the plan.

Prior to this, Chen was grilled over any plans to sell the BlackBerry company. He told the interviewer that he didn’t have any current offers, and would prefer to “build value” before thinking about an outright sale. Chen admitted there had been talks, but none had resulted in a firm offer. He didn’t mention any names, but in the past, companies such as Lenovo have been linked with a purchase.

If offers had been made by either of these two or any other Chinese firm, they would likely have been rejected. Chen cited BlackBerry’s existing, global government contracts along with Canadian legal restrictions as reasons selling to a Chinese firm probably wouldn’t happen. “There would be a lot of regulatory concerns,” he said, before adding, “And I appreciate that.”

If no sale is forthcoming, then what is Chen planning for BlackBerry? He said he is confident he can create value at the helm of the new, streamlined, more cost-conscious company, and that we should look out for new products coming soon. One of these new products will be the BlackBerry Passport, which has already been partially revealed. Bloomberg analysts expect Chen to build up BlackBerry, then sell it off in pieces, hence his keenness to add value.

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