New BlackBerry boss John Chen out to prove sceptics wrong

New BlackBerry boss John Chen out to prove sceptics wrong

John Chen, the man charged with breathing life into struggling BlackBerry Ltd , says he has no intention of killing the money-losing BlackBerry handset as he looks to turn around the smartphone maker.

"I know we have enough ingredients to build a long-term sustainable business," Chen said in a telephone interview with Reuters. "I have done this before and seen the same movie before."

Where Chen did it before, most famously, was as CEO of Sybase, a maker of computer database software that was losing money and in crisis after having to restate its results as he took the helm in 1998.

Sybase then was in a position similar to BlackBerry's now: it had very little credibility with Wall Street, posting a 1998 operating loss of US$98 million (S$121.8 million). In 2010 he sold it to SAP for US$5.8 billion.

Chen, an energetic 58-year-old Hong Kong native, who immigrated to the United States in 1973, was named executive chairman and interim chief executive of Blackberry on Monday as the company unexpectedly abandoned a plan to sell itself.

In a brief telephone interview, he vowed to rebuild the Canadian firm's once booming handset business, whose sales have plummeted as consumers, corporations and even government agencies, once its most loyal customers, have switched to devices running on the Google Inc's Android and Apple Inc's iOS operating systems.

The company has not disclosed how long Chen has been working with BlackBerry.

He declined in the interview to provide much detail about his strategy for reviving the company, but the executive, who sits on the boards of Walt Disney Co and Wells Fargo & Co, estimated the turnaround will take about six quarters.

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