Nikhil Kumar: Going back to its roots is the best way for struggling mobile phones firm BlackBerry
Global Outlook: John Chen will focus on the business buyers that helped the company grow in the first place
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Friday 29 November 2013
Talking of turnarounds, few companies face a challenge as immense as the one confronting BlackBerry.
Having abandoned a plan to sell itself, the struggling mobile phones firm has put its future in the hands of the interim chief executive and executive chairman John Chen, the former boss of Sybase, the database specialist.
He announced a shake-up of the upper ranks this week, with three top executives stepping down. At Sybase, Mr Chen won plaudits for reviving a business that, when he was brought in, was on its knees. At the time, in the late Nineties, Sybase was cutting its workforce as its stock plummeted in the face of weak sales.
Mr Chen came in, stabilised the ship and was quick to notice the opportunity presented by mobile data management. Sybase returned to profitability, and Mr Chen led its sale to SAP for $5.8bn in 2010, more than six times what it was worth when he took over 1998, according to Bloomberg.
His strategy for Blackberry will become clearer when the company announces its quarterly results next month. But, from the announcement about the executive shake-up, it looks as though he will focus on the business buyers that helped the company grow in the first place, instead of going head to head with the likes of Apple and Samsung in their battle for retail customers.
“BlackBerry... continues, by a significant margin, to be the top provider of trusted and secure mobile device management solutions to enterprise customers around the world,” he said, indicating that we might see the firm return to its roots as it tries to salvage its business.
Which could be a smart move, because it would free BlackBerry from the pressure of producing the trendiest new handset. Business customers are not going to buy a new device because it looks cool. Instead, if BlackBerry does away with fancy product launches and expensive ad campaigns, and goes back to producing reliable and secure phones that are attractive to companies (even if they aren’t always attractive to their employees), it might manage to recover.
It would still be hard work. But it seems like a better strategy than trying to catch up with Apple and Samsung, both of which are far ahead of BlackBerry.
A comScore report this month showed that the most popular smartphone platform among US users was Android (which powers Samsung phones, among others) with a 51.8 per cent market share in the three months to September. Apple was next with 41 per cent. And BlackBerry? 3.8 per cent.
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Zayn Malik quits One Direction: Hundreds of workers request compassionate leave following band member's exit
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...
£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...