Canada's smartphone OEM, BlackBerry, has announced that CEO John Chen will remain in his current position through November of 2023. Mr. Chen began working at the company in November of 2013 and is responsible for "defining the company's vision and goals, setting its strategy, and ensuring its execution." The statement made mention of the "tremendous confidence" BlackBerry's Board of Directors has in the CEO.
When he was hired, John Chen entered the company during a time in which BlackBerry faced a very real possibility of extinction. The company had been suffering from a protracted period of declining sales and market share, spurred on by the emergence and energy of Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Rather than take an approach like that of Nokia (siding with Microsoft's Windows Phone OS) the company was adamant about continuing the development and release of its own hardware running its own unique OS. As the competition became more and more aggressive, even the most stalwart supporters, enthusiasts, and business people ultimately began to jump ship. Even the release of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) on non-BlackBerry hardware failed to stimulate a salvageable situation, although it may very well have helped to keep the ship afloat.
Mr. Chen has managed to turn the company around both in terms of making BlackBerry an "Enterprise of Things" company but also finding a way to continue the OEM's hardware presence as well. By finally ceasing the development of its own BlackBerry OS and instead shifting full gear to Android the Canadian company is now as relevant as it ever was among some core fans. Perhaps even more importantly, despite the fact that BlackBerry itself no longer designs or produces hardware internally, the licensed products it does authorize – such as the BlackBerry KEYone – are often touted as being just as good as the products that once came directly from the company itself. Given that the overall corporate performance situation is slowly but surely turning around, barring any unforeseen circumstances or market changes, it is possible that CEO Chen's governance over BlackBerry for the foreseeable future will ensure continued success and a potential rise to (greater) relevance in the post-BlackBerry OS world.