BlackBerry in the latest move to revive its struggling smartphone operations has hired Alex Thurber as a new sales executive for its global mobile device business. Thurber will oversee BlackBerry’s in-house sales teams and supervise the company’s efforts to generate more revenue from distributing devices through carriers and other partners.
BlackBerry hires new executive to push hardware sales
Thurber, who is joining the Canadian technology company as Senior Vice President for Global Device sales, said the company is strengthening its sales team to build more direct relationships with corporate and other enterprise customers to help generate new business.
In an email to The Wall Street Journal, Thurber wrote, “My focus is to achieve BlackBerry’s strategic priority in making the device business profitable.”
Thurber’s hiring reaffirms BlackBerry’s commitment to its device business. The Canadian firm is doing all it can to turn around its struggling hardware division. Also the hiring underlines the challenges the company is facing in turning around the operation owing to cutthroat competition from bigger competitors like Samsung and Apple.
Thurber has a long track record of success as head of worldwide sales at WatchGuard Technologies, and the Canadian smartphone maker will leave no stone unturned to draw on that successful track record. WatchGuard Technologies is a private Seattle-based developer of security firewall technology, and during Thurber’s tenure of just over two and half year years, the company went from declining revenues to six straight quarters of year-over-year development.
Disappointing sales so far
BlackBerry is focusing on higher-margin security software and services used by businesses and government to handle their mobile networks in an attempt to fuel its turnaround. The Canadian firm aims to push further into the area by offering handsets that foster worker security. Earlier this month, the company revealed that its sales from software and services more than doubled from a year earlier, but its smartphone operation has continued to struggle, despite the launch of the Priv, the first-ever Android-powered phone by BlackBerry.
For the fourth quarter ended Feb. 29, BlackBerry’s handset sales were disappointing. From 700,000 smartphones in the third quarter, the company recognized revenue on 600,000 units in the fourth quarter. The Canadian firm blamed in part slowing demand for high-end smartphones for the drop. Meanwhile, the Canadian firm plans to release two new, lower-priced Android phones this year.
On Wednesday, BlackBerry shares closed up 1.11% at $7.28. Year to date, the stock is down by over 22%, while in last year, it is down by almost 30%.