BlackBerry Ltd ‘Close’ To Make Hardware Business Profitable: Chen

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BlackBerry CEO John Chen reaffirmed that the Canadian firm has no immediate plans to stop making smartphones even after the less-than-stellar sales of the Android-powered Priv and continued analyst calls for the company to close its hardware division. Chen also confirmed that the smartphone maker is planning to release two new handsets.

Chen reconfirms two new handsets

BlackBerry, which just about a month ago talked about its recent quarterly loss, has been going through a rough time lately due to the decline in hardware sales. Even the Android-based Priv did not see much success with only 600,000 units moved during the quarter. In spite of these setbacks, Chen continues to be positive about the future of the company.

“We have two new phones coming out between now and the end of the year,” Chen confirmed during an interview with CNBC in response to a question about whether BlackBerry was going to shutter its hardware business.

Chen, in another interview with Bloomberg, confirmed that one of the smartphones will only have a touchscreen, while the other device will feature a physical keyboard. Chen clarified in the same interview their plans to release the two devices before the end of February 2017.

BlackBerry to stay in hardware business

Further, Chen confidently told the interviewers that the company is very close to making its hardware business sustainable again.

Repeating his earlier statement, he said, “I think the key is could I get the business to make money, and I’m very close. I truly believe we’re going to be in the phone business, and a profitable one,” said Chen.

Despite missing sales targets, BlackBerry remains optimistic. The company’s fiscal 2017 ends on February 28, 2017, which means we may see one of the two devices — or none — prior to the end of the calendar year.

Last week, the Waterloo-based company hired a new global head of device sales, Alex Thurber, to resuscitate hardware sales. Thurber has held senior roles at McAfee, Cisco Systems and WatchGuard, a privately-held company. Thurber helped WatchGuard come out of declining growth. AT BlackBerry, he will be joining as senior vice president of global device sales.

In after-hours trading yesterday, BlackBerry shares were up 0.14% at $7.07. Year to date, the stock is down by over 24%, while in the last year, it is down by over 31%. The stock has a 52-week high of $11.09 and a 52-week low of $5.96.

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