BlackBerry will consider exiting its handset business if it remains unprofitable, its chief executive said on Wednesday, as the technology company looks to expand its corporate reach with investments, acquisitions and partnerships. "If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business," John Chen said, adding that the time frame for such a decision was short. He would not be more specific, but said it should be possible to make money off shipments of as few as 10 million devices a year. At its peak, in its 2011 financial year, BlackBerry shipped 52.3 million devices. Last quarter, it recorded revenue on fewer than 2 million. Chen, who took the helm of the struggling company in November, said BlackBerry was also looking to invest in or team up with other companies in regulated industries such as healthcare, and financial and legal services, all of which required highly secure communications. He said small acquisitions to strengthen BlackBerry's network security offerings were also possible. "We are building an engineering team on the service side that is focused on security," Chen said. "We are building an engineering team on the device side that is focused on security. We will do some partnerships and we will probably, potentially do [a merger and acquisition] on security." He said security had become more important to businesses and government since the revelations about surveillance made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in the United States. Chen acknowledged past management mistakes and said he had a long-term strategy to complement the short-term goals of staying afloat and stemming customer defections. "You have to live short term," he said. "Maybe the prior management had the luxury to bet the world would come to it. I don't have the luxury at all. I'm losing money and burning cash." BlackBerry reported a quarterly net loss of US$423 million last month and a 64 per cent drop in revenues, underscoring the magnitude of the challenge Chen faces in turning the company around. He said BlackBerry remained on track to be cash-flow-positive by the end of the financial year to February 2015 and to return to profit in the financial year after that. Chen said his long-term plans for BlackBerry included competing in the burgeoning business of connecting all manner of devices, from kitchen appliances to car consoles to smartphones. He said he was not sure how long it would take for the "machine-to-machine" world to become a mainstream business, but he said he was sure that was coming.