Jan 23, 2015

BlackBerry boss says the darnest things

rants, business, technology

John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry, has sent a letter to US lawmakers asking them to force mobile application developers to offer counterparts for their iOS and Android apps on BlackBerry. Mr. Chen this is why you fail.

In his letter he goes on to argue that there is widespread disagreement on what net neutrality is. I beg to differ - I think we are fairly clear on what that is. Simply put it is about not discriminating internet traffic based on source/ownership/content/etc - all traffic is equal. It is a principle of non-inteference that helps keep a level playing field for incumbents and new entrants into the market place.

The one’s that are trying to muddle the waters are big telcos and Mr. Chen. He goes on to argue that BlackBerry has been at the forefront of application/content neutrality citing as an example BlackBerry’s release of its messenger app to iOS and Android as an example. The unspoken implication here is that BlackBerry has done all of us a favor by giving us access to the application. I think you did it to gain some market share and respond to competitive pressure from various other players like Apple, Google and third party apps available on these platforms. You did it to avoid becoming even more irrrelevant than you already are. Please don’t confuse this with net neutrality.

Using this one example he goes on to say that Apple “does not allow” BlackBerry or Android users to download iMessage. Carefull choice of words there Mr. Chen - you might trick someone’s grandma into thinking Apple is actively trying to prevent users from their messaging app on your platform. No, they aren’t. It simply doesn’t work. Apple doesn’t have to invest resources and effort into porting their app to your OS - the only beneficiary would be you.

There’s some other nonsense in there but I can’t be bothered to even address it. This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard from a tech executive since Mr. Nadella told female employees to not ask for raises and wait for good Karma. Why would any developer target a platform they have no audience on? Is BlackBerry going to bear the cost of my development to bring my application to their OS? Does this mean thet every Windows application should be ported to Mac OS and Linux? How about console games? Should we legislate application developers into building their games on Xbox and Playstation? My good man think things trough before you go sending silly letters to lawmakers and pretending to have the collective greater good in mind.

Mr. Chen, instead of spending your time crying “No fair!” you should maybe look after making your company competitive again. You don’t do that by begging lawmakers to change the rules in your favor, you do that by innovating and offering a worth while product consumers actually want. This attitude I guess has been prevalent at BlackBerry for the past number of years which is why you are now an also ran as opposed to the leader BlackBerry used to be a decade ago. You have failed to adapt to changing market conditions despite the fact the writing has been on the wall for years.