John Chen talks smartphone strategy, spying, and the Internet of Things in Bloomberg interview

John Chen BlackBerry Classic

BlackBerry CEO John Chen recently sat down with Bloomberg news for an extended video interview discussing both his past at Sybase and the future of the company he’s been leading for approximately one year. Admitting that his preference for resuscitating struggling companies is due to a love for fixing things, Chen lays out BlackBerry’s basic go-forward strategy. Not surprisingly, the two “S” words – smartphones and security – come up.

“We’re trying to broaden ourself way beyond just the device, just the phone… It’s kind of our first point of entry, or one point of our big strategy of everything secure.”

After some prompting, Chen goes so far as to say that “smartphones will not matter in the long term.” So what will?

“The whole Internet of Things will be real. It’s a question of how and who will make money out of it. It’s not clear whether it’s the traditional handset people.”

Chen is also presented with the enduring question of whether or not he intends to sell BlackBerry. While admitting to being open to the prospect of a sale, Chen makes it quite clear that BlackBerry will most likely not be sold to a Chinese company due to the regulatory issues surrounding the company’s myriad government customers.

Almost inevitably, this leads to the question of spying, and again, Chen takes a firm stance.

“I think everybody is spying on everybody… We don’t have back doors, and we wouldn’t do that.”

The full interview, which also includes a segment on Chen’s early life growing up in Hong Kong, runs about 20 minutes long and is embedded below.

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