Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry launched its first-ever Android smartphone last year. Called the BlackBerry Priv, the device has reportedly not been as much of a success as the company’s management, employees and shareholders would have wanted. While the Priv has allowed the brand to reach out to large segments of people who would not have otherwise bought a BlackBerry, the device continues to remain a niche one in a market heavily dominated by Samsung and Apple at the premium end of the spectrum. With BlackBerry’s hardware division continuing to lose money even after almost a year of the Priv announcement, the top management at the company is now taking a long, hard look at its business strategy and vowing to pull out all stops trying to get back to profitability this year.
While talking to concerned investors at the company’s AGM in Waterloo, Canada earlier this week, BlackBerry CEO, Mr. John Chen, was categorical that the company’s hardware business needs to be profitable by the end of this year. According to him, “the devices business must be profitable, because we don’t want to run a business that drags onto the bottom line. We’ve got to get there this year”. The company is believed to be weighing its options regarding its hardware division, and some commentators believe that failure to get back to black by the end of this year might force the hands of the top management into selling off its devices unit under increasing pressure from investors and shareholders.
BlackBerry, meanwhile, remains bullish about its software business, saying that the sector it operates in is expected to grow exponentially between now and 2019. The company also projected a 30% growth for its software business this year, which would be in direct contrast to all the troubles the company is facing in its hardware business. While some shareholders have expressed skepticism about BlackBerry’s turnaround plans, others, like Mr. Ken Tota, have given the management the thumbs up. According to Mr. Tota, who happens to be an investor in BlackBerry’s largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., the company should be able to turn around its fortunes over the next five years if it keeps its focus on security going forward.