April 10 - BlackBerry CEO John Chen says he would consider exiting the handset business but hopes to make it profitable by next year. Fred Katayama reports.
The smartphone pioneer may consider ditching its iconic handset business if it can't make money. The CEO trying to rescue BlackBerry, John Chen, told Reuters it's possible to produce profits with as few as 10 million shipments a year. That would be one-fifth of its peak. SOUNDBITE: JOHN CHEN, CEO, BLACKBERRY (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "The only benchmark I would say is not so much volume based. I told the investor we need to make money in the handset business, and this is what I'm fixated on doing. I'm hoping that between now and sometime next year, we'll make money in the handset business." If BlackBerry can't make it profitable on its own, he said he could have other companies design and make it for them. He acknowledged he doesn't have much time to make a decision. BlackBerry's market share has plunged to less than a tenth of what it was five years ago as it lost out to Apple and Samsung. And its stock has plummeted 95 percent from its all-time high. It got a slight lift at the start of trade. SOUNDBITE: JOHN CHEN, CEO, BLACKBERRY (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "Well, I think the company is very undervalued, rightfully so. I mean there has been a lot of issues in the past couple, two, three years. I think our road map makes sense. Our assets are there. What I'm trying to do is to make sure that we deploy the best of our assets to what the market needs both the short term plan for financial stability and the longer term for capturing the marketing growth." Chen aims to put BlackBerry back into the black in the 2016 fiscal year. He says he's at the "tail end" of cutting costs, and he's looking to make investments, buy companies and partner with others.