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John Chen: Blackberry’s Future is as a Niche Product

There once was a time when Blackberry (NASDAQ: BBRY) was a global force in the smartphone market. Then along came Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and the countless Android phones that the world’s 1.75 billion smartphone owners use.

People have long thought that Blackberry, with its dramatic fall from grace, was going to be dismantled patent-by-patent and sold off in chunks to its competitors. After all, Blackberry’s market share is almost too small to measure as the company only shipped 1.6 million phones in the last quarter compared to Apple’s 60 million. But under John Chen, the CEO Blackberry’s board appointed in November 2013, the company seems to have another chance at life with Chen repeatedly promising a turnaround and recovery by focusing strictly on enterprise and government customers.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Chen says that Blackberry will continue pushing along in the smartphone market because its key customers — enterprise and government — demand the security that only Blackberry can provide.

“I can only make iPhone so much more secure, but I can’t make it as secure as a BlackBerry device,” Chen said to Business Insider. “If you look at the US Army, they’re still rolling out all BlackBerry. If I tell them there are no more phones, I lose that account. The question is how do you make phones profitable at the volume those people represent?”

Blackberry’s cash burn isn’t as bad as it once was, but shareholders aren’t going to be infinitely patient with Chen. They will want to see evidence of a turnaround soon. Blackberry’s client base is a guaranteed source of income, but the company will have to do much more than that to enter the turn around stage.