Talking to the assembled throngs at BlackBerry’s fourth security conference in London, Chen said that this shift in strategy has started to gain traction in the market.
“People have asked me to change the name, from BlackBerry to something else. People have asked me to do more advertising [as well], but the thing is our consistency, and our team going out there day after day and getting our message out there, is starting to pay off.
“A year ago, everyone wanted to talk about the next keyboard phones. They wanted to talk about the phones, the speed, the web browsing capability and all these sorts of things which was great – we’re very proud of our heritage.
“We continue to license it to other people who want to build phones, but we really need to get out of the phone business and leave the hardware business, and move onto the software side of the equation.
“The narrative has changed. For BlackBerry to get back on a positive track… it’s very important for [these people] to start talking about the value-add that we provide. I love talking about our heritage, but that only goes so far.”
The vendor’s name will still appear on handsets through licensing deals with hardware firms.
The BlackBerry Motion will ship in the UK early next month and is manufactured by Chinese giant TCL. Chen said he expects the vendor’s hardware revenue to be completely erased next year, with income coming only in the form of royalties paid for its branding.
The move away from hardware, he added, led people to question why he didn’t change the company’s name to better reflect the shift in focus.
“Virtually all the analysts, rightfully so, had written things that were negative”, he said. “But after three and a half years we really have turned around the perception and the understanding of our company.
The move away from hardware to software has led to a shift in BlackBerry’s go-to-market, with more channel partners needed to deploy the solutions to end users.
The firm has seen its new partner intake rise 75 percent this year compared with 2016.
Chen said that BlackBerry has built out its direct sales teams for highly regulated markets such as financial and government, but that partners predominately serve other verticals.