The device that was so addictive that it was dubbed the "CrackBerry" might not have much of a future: Its new chairman and interim chief executive says he wants to emphasize software and services — not devices. That could mean the company might ultimately get out of the business of selling smartphones.
The possible change in strategy comes as
Chen said he wants to find a CEO with a strong software and services background.
He noted that BlackBerry Messenger, BlackBerry's popular messaging application, has been downloaded by more than 20 million users since it became available on Google's Android and
BBM had long been one of the most popular features on BlackBerry devices and only became available on rival smartphones last month. While there are fewer users of the actual BlackBerry smartphone, BBM remains popular. Chen said there are now about 80 million active users of BBM.
"I'd like to find somebody to help me monetize that," Chen said.
BlackBerry no longer provides the number of actually device subscribers, and a company spokeswoman said that number would not be "an accurate reflection of our business today."
In June, it said the total BlackBerry subscriber base was about 72 million.
By comparison, smartphone market leader
Gillis said BlackBerry might indeed stop selling phones but noted BlackBerry is already obsolete. He doesn't think current BlackBerry users have to worry though.
"They are not just going to shut the lights off," Gillis said.
The decline of the BlackBerry has come shockingly fast. In 1999, BlackBerry became a game-changing breakthrough in personal connectedness. It changed the culture by allowing on-the-go business people to access wireless email. President
Then came a new generation of competing smartphones, and suddenly the BlackBerry looked ancient.
This year's much-delayed launch of the BlackBerry 10 system and the fancier devices that use it was supposed to rejuvenate the brand and lure customers. It did not work.
"Sadly I think they are already out of the business after the BlackBerry 10 flop," said
Walkley said he believes BlackBerry will focus on its mobile device management business, which allows IT departments to manage different devices connected to their corporate networks.
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