updated 07:42 pm EST, Mon December 2, 2013
Chen tries to stanch enterprise bleeding with open letter
John Chen, the new CEO of BlackBerry, penned an open letter to the smartphone maker's enterprise clients on Monday, trying to assure them that there is no need to leave the BlackBerry platform despite the company's ongoing struggles and recent rearrangements. Chen's letter points the finger at other manufacturers, who may have telling enterprise clients that BlackBerry's days are numbered and that they should switch to competing platform. To the contrary, says Chen: "We are very much alive, thank you."
Chen's letter aims to "set the story straight about BlackBerry in the Enterprise," with the hope of retaining current customers and perhaps attracting some new ones. In the past few years, BlackBerry has hemorrhaged market share to Apple, Samsung, and others, and its most recent attempts to claw back share have fallen flat. The last quarter saw BlackBerry losing nearly $1 billion, and nearly every month has brought new word of some layoffs at the company.
The company's struggles, as well as its inability to match iOS or Android devices in mindshare, have led to a number of massive enterprise clients abandoning the BlackBerry platform. Chen, though, says the company is "going back to our heritage and roots," targeting handsets, EMM solutions, cross-platform messaging, and embedded systems. BlackBerry will continue to invest in enterprise and security-related R&D during its restructuring period.
Chen assures enterprise clients that BlackBerry will manage and provide security for all devices running on its enterprise services. Further, the company has made it easier and lower-cost to try out and deploy BlackBerry Enterprise Services 10, Chen says.
The move to secure enterprise customers comes as BlackBerry struggles to fend off competition in some of its most secure markets. The Department of Defense, for example, will now allow Apple and Samsung devices to be used on its servers, though BlackBerry states that it remains the only EMM vendor and handset maker to secure DoD "Authority to Operate" certification.
Chen stepped in last month to replace outgoing BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins. Heins was ousted in November when the company's board decided to abandon plans to sell part or all of itself. Instead, BlackBerry raised an additional $1 billion from investors and has rededicated itself to finding an operational level at which it can return to profitability.