Blackberry CEO open to possible sale of BBM services

Despite having a rough couple of years, Blackberry CEO John Chen is hopeful a new encrypted version of the Blackberry Messenger will appeal to loyal users in the business community.
By Ananth Baliga   |   Feb. 25, 2014 at 1:15 PM
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BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Blackberry CEO John Chen said he would be open to selling the company's once popular BBM messaging service, which seems to have waned in popularity.

Chen's renewed interest in the BBM service comes after Facebook's purchase of the WhatsApp messaging service for $19 billion. Chen revealed a new encrypted version of the Blackberry Messenger at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“The potential is going to be huge,” Chen said of BBM, in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Until we get to the point that we can showcase that potential it is a bit too early to think about getting our $19 billion.”

The new service has advanced security features and is targeted at enterprise customers like makers and traders, who have traditionally stuck by the service.

“Nobody has a secure messaging infrastructure, and we’re the only ones who have it,” Chen said in the interview. “It’s important that we showcase and use that as a differentiator into the thousands and thousands of enterprise customers.”

Blackberry has partnered with Microsoft to have the BBM service on their Window's phones and also a tie-up with Foxconn technology Group for a five-year production deal to cut costs and reduce inventory.

Chen also announced the new Q20 phone would go back to Blackberry's roots with a physical keyboard and ‘menu,’ ‘send’ and ‘end’ buttons, features largely non-existent on modern smartphones.

“We’re building the best of the old and the new -- I call it the Classic -- to go back to the customer base,” the CEO said of the Q20 in the interview.


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