BlackBerry’s newly appointed CEO John Chen isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers. Last month he penned an open letter regarding T-Mobile’s ‘ill-conceived’ iPhone promotion, and this past week he went after the iPhone users themselves.
Speaking at the Oasis Montgomery conference, Chen was asked for his thoughts on the surging popularity of the iPhone. And his response was ‘I call you guys wall huggers,’ suggesting the handset is unable to last a full day on a single charge…
“Asked about Apple’s (AAPL) popularity, Chen belittled iPhone users whose batteries run down before the end of the end of the day, forcing them to search for power outlets. “I call you guys wall huggers,” he quipped.
He was also in a joking mood when asked why he left private equity firm Silver Lake to take the difficult turnaround job at BlackBerry. “I wanted to do something where I could wake up every day and worry,” he answered, adding “and I have fulfilled my dream,” as the room burst into laughter
So far, investors seem to be impressed with Chen’s plain talk and fast action. He’s already outsourced handset manufacturing to Foxconn, reducing the risk of getting stuck with unsold inventory, while focusing on enterprise customers and mobile messaging. Shares of BlackBerry have surged more than 50% since Chen took the reins in November.”
Of course you could argue that Chen is incorrect about the iPhone not lasting a full-day, and you may even be right. But the fact that he said it at all is significant. He obviously knows BlackBerry is the underdog right now, and he’s acting like it.
Chen has seemingly been making headlines since he took over the CEO position at BlackBerry from Thorsten Heins last fall. He’s saved the company from acquisition, gotten into a spat with T-Mobile’s John Legere, and taken BBM multi-platform.
Of course, only time will tell if all of these shenanigans will pay off. While BlackBerry’s stock is indeed up from 6 months ago, it still appears to be bleeding customers. Last month the Air Force traded-in 5,000 BlackBerrys for other devices.