BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEO Chen Says “Maybe One” New Phone Per Year

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BlackBerry Ltd ,   is giving up on hardware. The firm’s new-found focus on software for business has distracted traders from the flagging phone sales, and CEO John Chen is reacting to that. In an interview with Fox Business on Thursday Mr. Chen said the firm will now make “maybe two, maybe one” phones per year.

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Mr. Chen was responding to questions about the latest series of job cuts at his firm. He said “We are reducing jobs, but it’s not so much as reducing, we are shifting it.” The firm will no longer focus on making four phones per year, and it doesn’t require as much hardware staff as a result.

BlackBerry cuts down on phones

BlackBerry ,   is rumored to be ready to ditch its own OS in order to bring more security to Android, but things are still, very clearly, in flux at the firm. With a focus on just two new phones per year, or possibly one, depending on how Mr. Chen’s plan works out, an Android model would be an all-or-nothing bet.

Mr. Chen told FBN that firms have never “really questioned our technology, a while back they questioned about our viability.” He says he’s changing that.

Getting rid of much of the firm’s hardware staff, and making them focus on just one or two new phones per year will make the firm more viable, at least in the short term. While that’s going on BlackBerry can spend money where it thinks it’s most useful.

Making software at BlackBerry

After years of focusing on better hardware in order to sell more units of its smart phone, BlackBerry is finally giving up the ghost. Mr. Chen’s indication that only one or two new phones would come from the firm per year likely means that it has given up on spurring growth in hardware.

Software is now in focus at the firm. BlackBerry earnings, which emerged on Thursday June 23, showed that the firm sold just 1.1m phones in the first quarter. That’s the same level sales were at when Mr. Chen took over the firm and promised to help it turn around.

Mr. Chen told Maria Bartiromo of FBN that the DNA of the firm had “always been security and enterprise.” After years of neglect, he sees his job as beefing up the factors that have always driven sales at the firm.

He said that his firm spends around $100m each year in beefing up security, and it keeps buying firms in order to ensure that security stays at a high level. On Wednesday it emerged that BlackBerry had bought AtHoc for an undisclosed sum.

The software firm delivers emergency alerts to smartphones, and could be used by BlackBerry ,   for a number of types of content once it was built into BES 12.

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