BlackBerry: Does John Chen Mean A Software Tack?


"Another option is, maybe [BlackBerry] brought him in because they think he can break the company up and sell it," said Dulaney.

Selling BlackBerry in pieces has been an option the company had been exploring since August when the first offer from Fairfax Financial was put on the table to take the company private for $4.7 billion. Though hardware and software giants such as Cisco, Google, SAP and Lenovo were all rumored buyers of BlackBerry, or portions of it, none came to fruition.

Though splitting and selling the company may always be on the table, Dulaney said investors must have been promised something for the $1 billion investment through convertible debt financing.

Chen is expected to serve as BlackBerry's CEO on an interim basis, but his influence extends as he also has accepted the title of chairman of BlackBerry's board of directors.

In a statement, Chen recognized the challenge set in front of him: "I am pleased to join a company with as much potential as BlackBerry. BlackBerry is an iconic brand with enormous potential -- but it's going to take time, discipline and tough decisions to reclaim our success. I look forward to leading BlackBerry in its turnaround and business model transformation for the benefit of all of its constituencies, including its customers, shareholders and employees."

"Any time you start losing customers, and [BlackBerry] has lost a lot of device users, it's really hard to get them back," Gold said. "He has an uphill road to climb at BlackBerry."

Rick Jordan, director of Sales and Strategic Alliances at Tenet Computer Group, a Toronto-based solution provider and BlackBerry partner, has pulled for BlackBerry's turnaround since it began slipping. He said BlackBerry is an example of a company with plenty to offer, but it lacks the necessary leadership to efficiently get its products to market.

"Apple at one point was on the verge of going bankrupt, and Steve Jobs came in and had a vision," Jordan said. "I think what it comes down to is you have to have someone with a vision."

As a partner, Jordan believes the company needs to be focusing on pushing the entire ecosystem, not just promoting hardware.

"It's not so much about getting people to get the devices, but it's about going beyond devices," Jordan said. Jordan added the BES platform is one example of a stellar product being adopted too slowly due to the company’s inability to effectively bring it to market.

"It's exciting times at BlackBerry," Jordan said. "At the end of the day, I hope they can weather the storm."

PUBLISHED NOV. 4, 2013