UPDATE 5-BlackBerry revenue miss puts hardware future in focus

Fri Apr 1, 2016 4:33pm EDT
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(Adds CEO comments, updates share price move)

By Euan Rocha and Alastair Sharp

WATERLOO, Ontario/TORONTO, April 1 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd plans to make a decision by September on the future of its beleaguered smartphone business, but its Chief Executive John Chen stressed on Friday he remains confident the company will have a profitable hardware segment by then.

The smartphone industry pioneer has been pivoting to focus more on software and services as its smartphone market-share has dwindled, and its shares sank Friday after it reported a larger-than-expected slide in fourth-quarter revenue largely as sales of its new Android-based Priv device missed expectations, due to delays with certain carrier launches.

The Canadian company's shares closed down about 7.5 percent in New York and Toronto as the results raised fresh questions about the viability of its legacy hardware business.

"My number one focus is to stay in the hardware business beyond September, but I'm also a realist, I'm not going to stay in the business and continue losing money," said Chen.

He said BlackBerry plans to release a new mid-range Android-based device before September, and that the company plans to do a better job targeting enterprise clients with its new devices.

Chen said BlackBerry is working on licensing its hardware know-how like its virtual keyboard and security software, moves it sees boosting hardware segment revenue and getting it closer to profitability.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company recognized revenue on roughly 600,000 devices in the quarter. Chen said three million device sales a year at an average price of around $300 would get the unit to break even. He had previously estimated BlackBerry needed to sell five million to achieve this goal.   Continued...