BlackBerry's CEO is skeptical about the appeal of foldable smartphones

BlackBerry's CEO is skeptical about the appeal of foldable smartphones
Huawei and Samsung believe foldable smartphones are the future but BlackBerry CEO John Chen is much more skeptical about their appeal.

Speaking with Barron’s recently, Chen argued that foldable smartphones have a lack of appeal due to their lack of innovation. Personally, he wants “something faster with functional upgrades” but, in his opinion, there are “no breakthroughs on the horizon.”

In recent years elements such as the fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, and iris scanning have all been introduced. Nowadays, though, the focus is primarily on creating “bigger” displays, something that results in “bulky” devices and doesn’t always entice users to upgrade – consumers typically want more than just larger displays and iterative upgrades. 

As many of you may know, BlackBerry itself hasn’t produced a single smartphone since 2016. Instead, the company has continued to focus on its security and communications services and software over the past few years. Recent BlackBerry-branded devices have instead been produced by TCL under a licensing agreement.

Unlike BlackBerry’s CEO, TCL is betting quite heavily on foldable smartphones. The manufacturer is yet to release such a device to the market but recently unveiled its DragonHinge design at MWC. This will become the basis of the first foldable offerings from the company which should arrive sometime next year. It also means that BlackBerry-branded foldable offerings are a possibility, despite John Chen’s lack of interest in the form factor.

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14 Comments

1. Derekjeter

Posts: 1528; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

They said the iPhone was just a toy and even though plenty of people hate it they can’t deny what It did for cell phone industry. It’s a piece of crap phone now but back then it really was innovation. BlackBerry won’t be around in a couple of years.

2. LawnBoy

Posts: 198; Member since: Feb 23, 2019

And that is the thinking that has put them in the bankruptcy

6. Subie

Posts: 2390; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Bankruptcy?... Blackberry was profitable in 2018 - look it up. Chen's been a pretty competent CEO.

7. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3151; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Another mxy account perhaps? Only been around a few days.

8. Vogue1985

Posts: 480; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Oh please Chen buried the Blackberry brand in full fat grease. BB should be one of the most relivent companies in tech but they aren't where they should be. They are just lucky there software is solid.So Chen can eat the sand. Xoxo from former Blackberry user (2018). NEXT lol

12. Subie

Posts: 2390; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

@Vogue1985, Had Chen been the CEO of BB from the beginning you'd have a better point. Chen saved a sinking ship from going down. Had they not given up on their own OS and phone hardware division things could be a lot worse...

3. iushnt

Posts: 3122; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

That’s why he is the CEO of BB and not Samsung.

4. sleepypandaeyes

Posts: 377; Member since: Apr 12, 2015

Savage.... But true

9. Vogue1985

Posts: 480; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Lol, let him stay there. I want my Note 10 and Chen is no no.

5. ztkells

Posts: 41; Member since: Jan 26, 2011

Whew! There's no wonder why they don't make their own phones anymore. Something functional?? Isn't a phone that doubles as a tablet to remove the need for another device "functional"? So sorry that it doesn't have a physical keyboard!

11. LiveFaith

Posts: 487; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Sounds like the Palm guy making fun of the iPhone when it was announced 5 most before availability. "PC guys are not just going to walk in". In other words BB has no foldable plans.

13. stijnvbml

Posts: 76; Member since: Feb 20, 2013

I am sceptical as well. When folded, you only get like an 7,5 display with an awkward aspect ratio, making the video experience not much better than on a 6,5 inch phone. The screens must be made out of plastic, which scratches easily, and Android (apps) don’t seem to be ready yet, but that can change. The technology is impressive, but I doubt whether phones are the right place to use this technology. Though, only time will tell.-

14. ShadowHammer

Posts: 208; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

Ditto on the skepticism. When 6"+ screens are becoming the norm, why would I want to mess with a folding phone that introduces other potential problems for just an inch or so more screen? That being said, if a manufacturer wants to offer one to their customers, all the power to them. I don't think the design is going to replace the traditional very quickly, though.

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