Remember Blackberry? The business phone maker that got absolutely huge when smartphones got cheap enough for everyone under 18 to own and then went out of fashion with the youths? They’re still around and on Friday their Q4 financial results were announced to the effect that they are still a meaningful player in the smartphone world.
When Blackberry CEO John Chen took the helm of the faltering company in 2013 his goal was to return to profitability and change their emphasis from a hardware led company to a software led company. In my opinion John saw that their meteoric rise, the times when every 10-16 year old child owned a Blackberry and was constantly on BBM, really was a one-off point in the evolution of the mobile phone and that he needed to focus on the part of the business where they truly were industry leaders – security. This is hardly a cool or sexy area but it is an area that is becoming more and more important in the world and Blackberry are at the top of the league of any mobile phone security chart. Most government agencies either use Blackberry handsets or have the back-end security being taken care of by Blackberry software in some way shape or form and they are universally lauded for their strengths and experience in this area.
But what about the poor shareholders and their profits, I hear you cry? Well they’re predictably a lot smaller than when Blackberry was selling several million handsets a quarter. But most importantly for both Blackberry device fans and those interested in the finances of the company there are profits and plans for continued growth in this area. John Chen has always said that handsets are an important part of the company and he does plan to continue with them but it is a very positive sign that he does seem to be making progress on changing where they get their revenue from so as to make the company more sustainable in the current smartphone world. You can see the whole end of quarter results posted here. I personally found it quite dry but was very encouraged that the big plan seems to be working and that turning a behemoth of an organisation in a focussed direction is starting to take effect.
Does this matter though? Are they actually fighting a no-win battle and are ultimately doomed to disappear? Let us know what you think in the comments field below.