Blackberry “very close” to smartphone profitability

by Matt Klassen on May 5, 2016

blackberryprivreview-01701-croppedIt seems rumours of the end of Blackberry’s mobile hardware business have been greatly exaggerated, but honestly who could blame analysts for thinking the end was nigh given the failure of the company’s flagship Priv smartphone and the company’s less than stellar quarterly numbers?

But despite the general sense that Blackberry’s smartphone days were coming to an end, company CEO John Chen revealed that not only is Blackberry’s hardware division not dead, but it’s actually “very close” to achieving profitability.

“I think the key is could I get the business to make money, and I’m very close.” He then added, “I truly believe we’re going to be in the phone business, and a profitable one.

Not only that, but given the revelation that Blackberry is planning to release two phones this year and the news last week that the company hired a new executive in charge of global device sales, it seems Blackberry plans to stay in the smartphone business for the foreseeable future.

While I still have little hope that Blackberry will realistically be able to restore its smartphone brand to profitability, it’s become abundantly clear to me that if Blackberry does ever leave the smartphone game behind for good, it’s going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming out the door, and kudos to Chen for that.

But being extremely motivated to succeed and actually succeeding are two different things, and despite the fact the Waterloo company is doubling down on its Android projects in an effort to return to profitability, I remain sceptical that there is enough of a market out there to allow that to happen.

I mean, sure it’s great that due to cost-costing measures and cost-effective manufacturing processes the company only needed to sell three million Priv handsets at an average of $300 a unit for the company to break even on the project, but given the company was only able to move about 600,000 the company’s failure to achieve even its modestly adjusted goals speaks to just how far Blackberry truly is.

That said, perhaps things will be different this time around, given that the company has added a new executive with fresh ideas, and speculation has Blackberry focusing on the mid-range and budget enterprise markets with its next round of Android devices. This could be the emergence of a new Blackberry, one that knows what it’s good at and does it well.

But to be honest we’ve been waiting for that Blackberry to emerge since Chen took the helm, and while the firm has made strides towards transitioning into a data management and security firm, its insistence on holding onto the mobile continues to confound me.

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