AH Tech Talk: BlackBerry CEO says Company may Exit Handset Business, Backpedals Quickly

BlackBerry CEO John Chen can't seem to make up his mind about what direction he wants to take the company. On Wednesday, he sat down for an interview with Reuters and said "If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business," and mentioning that there was not a lot of time left for BlackBerry to make this decision. He wouldn't provide any more details, but the company is obviously discussing the option of getting out of the hardware business and focusing on its software and app offerings. Chen did say that BlackBerry could turn a profit by shipping as few as 10 million units a year, which shouldn't be a problem, even for the flailing company. BlackBerry still commands a large presence, especially in developing countries. Still, the words from Chen didn't bode well for BlackBerry's direction.

Then today, Chen backpedaled by clarifying his statement with the usual "My comments were taken out of context," in a blog post on the BlackBerry website. He says that BlackBerry has no intention of "selling off or abandoning this business any time soon." That directly contradicts what he said on Wednesday and it leaves consumers and investors with a very mixed message. There have been rumors of BlackBerry being sold or acquired by other companies in the past, and we all know that the company is on rocky ground. In the blog post, Chen goes on to talk about how BlackBerry is not just a handset company, and how they offer enterprise software solutions and a messaging platform, among other things. Basically, they are trying whatever they can to stay afloat. This doesn't leave out the possibility of exiting the handset market in the future, although Chen tries to end on a strong note by saying, "Rest assured, we continue to fight. We have not given up and we are not leaving the Devices business."

BlackBerry is still in trouble. John Chen isn't helping things by lifting the rug and showing us what the company is discussing behind closed doors about selling their handset business. It certainly doesn't help that he backpedaled the very next day, but he had to try to smooth things over after dropping that bomb on Wednesday. Unfortunately, he's not fooling anyone.

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