John Chen, BlackBerry's Chief Executive Officer, has a grand plan when it comes to Android smartphones: "We're going to build the most secure Android phone that the market can see." He made this statement at BlackBerry's annual general meeting when speaking with investors about BlackBerry's financial performance and plans for the coming months and years. The headline figures are not great: the company lost $0.19 per share over the 2015 / 2016 fiscal year on revenue of $2.2 billion. Software amounted to around a quarter of this at $527 million and BlackBerry has enjoyed a 113% growth, year over year, over the last eight quarters. It's losing less money than before. Chen also explained that the company is still planning – indeed it needs to – make the device business profitable. The handset business is to be the company's number one objective for the 2016 / 2017 fiscal year despite the company's successful change towards specialist software.
For the software, BlackBerry is aiming to grow this revenue by 30% in the coming fiscal year. It will be using its knowledge in the specialist security business for this and is investing in a number of different industrial sectors such as healthcare, autonomous cars, the Internet-of-Things plus both local and national government and enterprise. Whilst BlackBerry is still losing money, the improvement that the company has seen in the software business is propping the business up. Chen explained that over the last eighteen months the company has invested around a billion dollars into buying technology channels.
Some of the awkward questions asked by investors included asking about marketing, where Chen reported that BlackBerry could not afford extensive marketing. On the subject of why retail stores do not support the brand he, reluctantly, explained that it was probably easier for sales associates to sell something they would want to use themselves, which has a nod towards the Apples and Samsungs of the world. However, here there is optimism from Chen because the company is positioning itself to license BlackBerry's security software to other smartphone vendors. We have also seen murmurings that BlackBerry will be releasing more Android-powered devices: unfortunately, the BlackBerry Priv has not been the sales success that BlackBerry were hoping for, but the combination of BlackBerry hardware, security software and the ubiquitous popularity of the Android platform has much promise. The company has much to prove.