An early mover in the smartphone market (the BlackBerry was nicknamed the ‘CrackBerry’ in the US because some owners seemed addicted), BlackBerry has lost market share mainly to Apple’s iPhone, and to other smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system.
BlackBerry chief hires more former colleagues
BlackBerry hired three more senior executives this week who previously worked with its new chief executive, bolstering a team charged with putting the stumbling smartphone maker back in stride.
They are part of a growing cadre of familiar talent tapped by John Chen since he joined BlackBerry as chief executive last month.
Chen built his reputation as a turnaround specialist at Sybase, a database and mobile software company that was eventually acquired by German software firm SAP. After the deal Chen served as president of SAP's mobile services business to help with the target company's integration.
BlackBerry said on Wednesday that James Mackey would take charge of acquisitions as executive vice-president for corporate development and strategic planning, while Mark Wilson was named senior vice-president of marketing.
Mackey had previously headed corporate development at SAP, where he led more than 40 acquisitions, before joining OpenText, a neighbour of Ontario-based BlackBerry, last year. Wilson joined Avaya as chief marketing officer last year, after working for many years at Sybase.
"I have worked extensively with both of them in the past, have the utmost respect for their experience and accomplishments," Chen said.
"We have developed close and trusted relationships with each other that will enable us to cohesively manage the changes required to reshape BlackBerry."
On Tuesday, BlackBerry named another former SAP executive, John Sims, as head of its global enterprise services business, a segment that is likely to be at the core of the smartphone maker's turnaround plan.
BlackBerry pioneered the concept of on-the-go e-mail, and for years its pagers and phones were must-have devices for political and business leaders. But its market share has dissipated in recent years as Apple's iPhone and a slew of phones powered by Google's Android software have surged in popularity.
The company put itself up for sale earlier this year but dropped that plan last month. Instead it will raise US$1 billion by issuing convertible notes to a group of long-term investors, including its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial, and announced Chen's appointment.
At the time Chen said he had no plans to kill the company's money-losing handset business, but gave little more detail on his strategy. He said a turnaround would take about six quarters to execute.
In September, the company said it was retreating from the consumer market to focus on its traditional strength serving businesses and governments.