Blackberry and Sony Could Leave Smartphones in 2016

The CEOs of Blackberry and Sony have expressed doubts about their stay in the smartphone market.

Blackberry CEO John Chen has said that the company could withdraw from making smartphones altogether next year. He had previously hinted at this, but had failed to give a date (Blackberry Considers Smartphone Exit).

If the Android-powered Blackberry Priv (Blackberry Looks to Android to Save Falling Share) is not a success, Chen told Code/Mobile attendees, Blackberry could leave the hardware business.

“Sometime next year we have to make our device business profitable, otherwise I have to rethink what I do there”, Chen said. “My job is to make sure the value of the company is protected and increases. We do what makes sense to serve the customer”. Rather than hardware, Blackberry’s focus would turn to security solutions for other platforms. Chen later said that Blackberry aims to sell 5 million phones per year to become profitable.

However, Chen remained optimistic about the company’s chances. He said that Android was not well-served in the enterprise market at present, but that Blackberry’s knowledge and expertise would allow it to perform well.

Regarding the Priv’s security, Chen said, “We’ve created a patching mechanism that will address attacks a lot quicker than others to protect the customer. There are many safeguards and locks in place, but it’s not foolproof 100 percent, nobody can say that. We’re probably the same level as Samsung’s Knox”. He added, “The only other commercial phone that can say they have the same or better than us is maybe the BlackPhone” (Silent Circle Begins EPP With Secure Smartphone).

Finally, Chen said that there are two new Blackberry 10 phones to be released, although he did not provide a date.

As for Sony, CEO Kazuo Hirai told Reuters that 2016 will be a ‘make-or-break year’ for the company’s mobile business, which has been slower to turn around than other divisions.

“We will continue with the business as long as we are on track with the scenario of breaking even next year onwards”, Hirai said on the 7th October. “Otherwise, we haven’t eliminated the consideration of alternative options”.

Sony spokesperson Yoshinori Hashitani later said that the company still expects its mobile business to become profitable next year.