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BlackBerry CEO, John Chen on Europe, China and How BlackBerry Has Evolved


BlackBerry CEO John Chen spoke with FOX Business Network’s (FBN) Maria Bartiromo about his thoughts on how BlackBerry has evolved, BlackBerry’s security and the global markets. Today, is also when BlackBerry Classic has been launched, so do check it out!

Chen said, “the phone business is a tough business…it’s like a movie business” and that “you either have a great movie or you don’t have a great movie.” Chen talked about BlackBerry’s security saying, “in the future, I’m going to release Secure Voice, so nobody could eavesdrop on you.” When asked about the global markets Chen said, “Europe has been a strong market for us. Russia is not one area that we do a lot of business with” and that “I think the younger generation leadership is rising” in China.

When asked about how BlackBerry device has evolved:

Yes, well, the phone business is a tough business…It’s like a movie business. You either have a great movie or you don’t have a great movie. But anyway, phone business is a tough business. So the sentiment changes quite rapidly; that’s something that I have learned which is different my previous life. On the other hand, the customers are willing to try new things. They try — they’re willing to talk to you. And if you do the things you want them, that — the interfaces we talk about, the security, the power and so forth — then they will give you a chance. So I learned a lot. It’s great to speak to all these people.

As for Europe, here’s what he had to say:

Well, so far, Europe has been a strong market for us. Russia is not one area that we do a lot of business with. I think we might have a distributor there. So it itself doesn’t really affect us. However, we were just commenting earlier: if this continues on, it would affect the global market. When it affects the global market, it affects everybody.

In addition, on China:

In China slowdown, I think going through — I mean, they’re going through a whole bunch of social changes and anti-corruption and all that good stuff. They’re going through leadership changes. I think the younger generation leadership is rising. I actually think it’s quite healthy. I know people don’t like slowdown, but a lot of time you kind of have to retreat from a new base and move forward. I think this is going to be a healthier society going forward, as we see it.

How about security in BlackBerry as a priority?

“Yes… The issue is risk management. And the funny thing about it is I hear a lot of enterprise talk about, oh, security is important, but they don’t really do a whole lot about it. I mean, they do but they don’t. There’s so many steps that one could take, especially mobile is a very — kind of wide open world. And we have the mobility that connects to the enterprise. It needs to be more secure. I think this whole BYOD movement in the past, which is wonderful for individual powers, is going to — is creating a lot of challenges for I.T. shops, for example. So this is where we come in. It’s trying to balance that: how do I make the individual have choices and also become, still become the highly secure? You’re going to see a lot of product and roadmap. I’m very committed to security and it’s going to — more of this stuff will come out.

Perhaps the most crucial part to investors – on the analysts talking about his revenue forecast

“That’s crazy…This guy is nuts…These are, oh, really optimistic. So how do you get there… Maybe. But I guess we have to set up some real high targets. I — but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of the possibility. We do about $250 million a year in software and support. I think going to $500 sounds like a lot. Even if I don’t get to $500, get to $480, that’s — in my mind that’s at least good enough. But if you set the target too low, you’ll never really get completely committed to it. I’m a believer that either you’re in or you’re not in.

And finally, on the loyal fan base of The Classic:

Yes. When it was at peak time, I think we had like 80 million users on the 9900 on the Curve. And over the time, we have depleted that to roughly about 40-plus million. We’ve still got 40 million plus users right there — out there right now, and I think it was very important for us to reach back to not only the customer base but also to tell the world the different type phone, you know, the phone markets in the world, that keyboards are something they should try.

Thanks once again to Fox Business Network for getting this interview! Be sure to watch it here!

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