BlackBerry's New Year's Resolutions - An Open Letter to CEO John Chen

Dear Mr. Chen,

I am very pleased with what I have seen and heard from you since taking the helm of BlackBerry nearly 2 months ago. I appreciate your candor and openness and welcome the changes you have already made to the management team and areas of focus for the company.

In the grand scheme of BlackBerry's history, I am a relative newcomer to the devices and the company. My first experience with BlackBerry products was when I purchased a PlayBook. The botched release of the PlayBook is a dark chapter in the company's history, for sure, but I still have mine and still lament the missed opportunities and untapped potential of that little tablet, which I still think is a great device even by today's standards.

I liked my PlayBook so much I purchased a Curve 8530 smartphone to make use of the BlackBerry Bridge functionality, which has no equal on any other platform.

My smartphone tastes have changed over the past couple years, and I have tried every major platform. But as of today, I have again chosen a BlackBerry Z30 as my go-to smartphone, and I consider it to be the best smartphone I have ever owned. And in the interest of full disclosure, as of two weeks ago, I am a BBRY shareholder.

A new year brings with it a sense of new beginnings, fresh starts, and clean slates. During this time, many take the opportunity to set goals for things they want to accomplish over the course of the year.

Your communications and interviews since becoming CEO have clearly stated your vision for the future of BlackBerry, but I wish to share with you three very general "New Year's Resolutions" I hope BlackBerry fulfills in 2014. I'm not presuming to tell you how to do your job, rather, just offering my perspective as a passionate technology "geek" who appreciates great gadgets and can objectively see the weaknesses, strengths and potential of every device, whatever the platform.

Resolution #1: Better marketing

I appreciate that one of the first things you did as CEO was revamp the marketing leadership team. Effective marketing (or rather the lack thereof) has been one of my biggest "beefs" with BlackBerry over the past couple of years. Please improve this! I know the focus will be primarily on enterprise, and whatever focus is given to handsets will initially be on emerging markets, so I don't expect to see much in the way of handset marketing in North America in the near future. But as long as carriers are still selling BB10 devices in North America, it would be nice some good TV spots, radio ads, or online ads - ANYTHING, really - letting people know that BlackBerry still makes phones, that they're actually pretty good, and that many people actually do like them.

Resolution #2: Better communication

Again, hats off to you for your openness and candor right off the bat. For me, that has gone a long way toward repairing BlackBerry's relationship with its customers. Please continue this! And I sincerely hope this improved communication continues to happen not only between the company and its customers, but within the company as well. I truly feel that keeping and attracting the best and brightest talent to work for any company has to do with the quality, frequency, and openness of internal communication. This will go a long way toward restoring employee confidence in the company this confidence will spread to customers and potential customers as they see things turn around.

Resolution #3: Be the best at what you do

You don't have to have the biggest market share or be the most popular brand in order to be successful and profitable. Just be the best at what you do. BlackBerry devices have always been focused on efficient communication first, with everything else built around that core functionality. This sets BlackBerry apart from its competitors, who focus on media and content consumption first, with communication seemingly as an afterthought. Some see this as a weakness for BlackBerry, but I see it as a great strength. It's what drew me to the platform. Other strengths like security, enterprise, and high quality hardware only add to the advantages BlackBerry devices have over others. I'm all for innovation, but I think you can innovate and still hang on to what makes BlackBerry...well, BlackBerry!

I don't need to tell you that 2014 is a crucial year for BlackBerry. Whatever your resolutions happen to be as a CEO and as a company, I wish you all the best as you work to fulfill them!

Here's to the beginning of one of the greatest company turnarounds in history!


Dallin Crump


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