BlackBerry wants to push beyond communications into mobile computing, and eventually play a leading role in the "Internet of Things," the term for a predicted revolution in which many ordinary objects will be given computing power.
That was chief executive Thorsten Heins's message at the annual shareholders meeting in Ontario today, as he tried to defend the company's trajectory after sales of the new BlackBerry 10 line of smartphones fell well below analyst expectations. A disappointing earnings report June 28 caused BlackBerry stock to fall to $10.46 per share that day, a 28 percent drop from its previous-day closing price of $14.48.
Today, Heins outlined a three-phase plan for BlackBerry's future, the first of which happened earlier this year with the debut of the new BB10 mobile operating system and new phones. The second phase, he said, will focus on scaling. That means reaching new customers while also transitioning existing users from the BlackBerry 7 operating system to BB10.
In the third phase, BlackBerry will seek to become "the leading mobile enterprise services platform," Heins said. As early evidence of this goal, he pointed to a new BlackBerry service for automakers that was unveiled in Detroit last month. The service makes it possible to update vehicle software remotely, get status updates on vehicle components and install apps to a car's entertainment system.
As smart technology becomes an increasingly vital part of everyday life, Heins said, BlackBerry will use its global data network and create new partnerships to develop more mobile computing services for enterprise clients.
Asked whether he and the company board have seriously considered breaking up BlackBerry -- perhaps splitting off the devices business from the enterprise services business -- Heins demurred. "I'm here with my team to create jobs and not to destroy jobs," he said. "We have to get through this."
"Whatever [Wall] Street expects from us, we are still early" in our product cycle, Heins told shareholders. The next 12 months, he said, will be a time of investment, with an eye toward achieving sustainable growth sometime in 2014.
BlackBerry's stock value closed on Tuesday at $9.64.