by Al Sacco

New BlackBerry Chief’s Open Letter is Same Old Song and Dance

Nov 13, 20134 mins

BlackBerry's new chief penned an open letter to the company's users, urging them to keep the faith. But's Al Sacco says Chen needs to put his money where his pen is.

Today, BlackBerry’s new CEO John S. Chen released an “open letter” to its customers and fans that says the chief executive is aware of the challenges his company faces but is also “excited for the future and you should be too.” The brief letter is posted below.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen

To our BlackBerry Community,

As you know, this is a time of significant change at BlackBerry as we accelerate our efforts to transform our business.

I know there has been a lot said about BlackBerry, but let me remind you that at BlackBerry, we are not dwelling on the past. We are looking towards the future.

We Are Committed to Reclaiming our Success

We have begun moving the company to embrace a multi-platform, BYOD world by adopting a new mobility management platform and a new device strategy. We are also leveraging our tremendous assets, including BBM, our network and QNX. While we are proud of these accomplishments, we know there is more work to be done.

I know that it’s going to take time, discipline and tough decisions to reclaim BlackBerry’s success and we are ready for that challenge.

Our Commitment to our Customers Remains Unchanged

We remain committed to delivering high quality products and services to the millions of people who rely on us globally. We also want our customers to know that BlackBerry has significant financial strength for the long-haul.

I believe in the value of this brand. With the right team and right strategy in place, I am confident that we will rebuild BlackBerry for the benefit of all of our constituencies.

We are Excited for the Future and you Should Be Too

Thank you for your strong support and continued commitment.


John S. Chen

Executive Chair and CEO

Sound familiar? It should if you follow the company. That’s more or less what former BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said when he took the reins in January 2012, less than two years before he surrendered them to Mr. Chen.

Yes, we’re facing an uphill battle, but we have $$$$$ in the bank, loyal users, a shiny new OS and we cater to the enterprise like nobody else. Yadda yadda yadda.

I had trouble believing Heins then, though I was admittedly optimistic, and the man seemed genuine when I heard him speak.  I’m even less convinced by Mr. Chen today.

I recently wrote a post detailing my time covering BlackBerry and explained why I’d finally lost faith in the company. A big part of the reason was BlackBerry’s uncanny ability to overpromise and underdeliver. Mr. Chen seems to be fitting right in.

I’ve been hard on BlackBerry in recent days, maybe too hard, but that’s because I care. And I’ve been burned too many times. Like the sibling or child who keeps messing up no matter how hard you wish they’d get it together, BlackBerry just keeps on talking the talking without waltzing the waltz. It’s a waltz I want to watch at this point; I’m sick of the talk.

BlackBerry’s recent launch of cross-platform BBM was an inarguable success, and the one positive thing I can come up with right now. I give the company credit. But it remains to be seen just how BBM will fit into the busy messaging space, if at all, so I’m not marking it up as a win just yet.

I wish Mr. Chen would explain why he feels “excited” in his letter. I know plenty of folks who’d also want to know.

Just yesterday, I reached out to BlackBerry PR and requested a conversation with Mr. Chen. I expected the response I got: “[G]ood to know you’re interested in speaking with John. It’s duly noted, and when/if we get John out there with press I’ll put in your request. For now, please stay tuned on that.”

I’m not holding my breath.

As is, BlackBerry hasn’t really given me any reason to be “excited about the future,” at least as it pertains to the company. Maybe Mr. Chen will read this and decide he’d like to explain.