BlackBerry says "we're still alive" as sales hit new low

BlackBerry CEO tries to assure enterprise customers that the company isn't going to fail

Nicole Kobie
3 Dec 2013

BlackBerry's CEO has claimed that "reports of our death are greatly exaggerated", as the mobile firm looks to reassure enterprise customers amid sliding device sales.

John Chen was named as interim CEO last month, after BlackBerry opted not to sell out to Fairfax Investment in favour of investing to rebuild the struggling firm.

In an open letter to enterprise customers, Chen stated that BlackBerry is "here to stay", adding "the investments you've made in BlackBerry infrastructure and solutions are secure".

"In short, reports of our death are greatly exaggerated," he said, in a section of the letter titled "We are very much alive, thank you".

Mobile sales stats

The Kantar Worldpanel stats revealed that Android handsets were continuing to post growth at the expense of iOS. In the UK, Android climbed from 54% to 55.6% of the market, while iOS slid by four points to 28.7% over the past year.

The release of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c helped boost Apple's sales from the previous month, with the more expensive model outselling its cheaper cousin three times over.

Windows Phone, meanwhile, continued to post growth, nabbing 10.2% of European smartphone sales.

However, the latest sales stats from Kantar Worldpanel suggest BlackBerry devices are all but dead in some markets. Across the five largest EU countries, BlackBerry sales slid to 1.8% of the market in October from 5.1% last year, slipping below 1% in Japan, the US, Germany and Spain.

Of the countries tracked by Kantar, BlackBerry has its highest market penetration in the UK, but even here it's fallen to 3.3% from 8.1% in October 2012.

BlackBerry "not for everyone"

The CEO acknowledged that device sales were stalling, but hedged his bets by stressing that BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) can be used to manage rival handsets, such as those running iOS or Android.

"We know that BlackBerry devices are not for everyone," he said. "That's okay." He continued: "We are more than just a device company."

He also hinted at the route BlackBerry intends to take to rebuild. "We're going back to our heritage and roots - delivering enterprise-grade, end-to-end mobile solutions," the letter reads.

Chen said BlackBerry will focus on handsets, enterprise-management mobility solutions, cross-platform messaging and embedded systems, as well as security-related R&D.

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