BlackBerry to make call on smartphones by Sept
BLACKBERRY plans to decide by September on the future of its beleaguered smartphone business but chief executive John Chen stressed on Friday he remains confident the company will have a profitable hardware segment by then.
The smartphone industry pioneer has been pivoting to focus more on software and services as its smartphone market share has dwindled.
Its shares sank on Friday after it reported a larger-than-expected fall in fourth-quarter revenue - largely as sales of its new Android-based Priv device missed expectations, due to delays with certain carrier launches.
"My No. 1 focus is to stay in the hardware business beyond September, but I'm also a realist, I'm not going to stay in the business and continue losing money," said Mr Chen.
He said BlackBerry plans to release a mid-range Android-based device before September, and that the company plans to do a better job targeting enterprise clients with its new devices.
BlackBerry is working on licensing its hardware know-how like its virtual keyboard and security software to boost hardware segment revenue and get it closer to profitability.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company recognised revenue on roughly 600,000 devices in the quarter.
Mr Chen said three million device sales a year at an average price of around US$300 (S$400) would get the unit to break even.
He had previously estimated BlackBerry needed to sell five million to achieve this goal.
Many analysts and investors remain sceptical. "We're looking for even faster growth," said Brian Colello, an analyst at Morningstar, noting BlackBerry needs "exponential software growth" to complete its transformation into a stable, profitable entity.
Overall revenue fell to US$464 million from US$660 million a year earlier and was about US$100 million lower than the average of analyst expectations.