I like John Chen, BlackBerry’s current CEO.
When I met him at Mobile World Congress, he came across as an engaging, smart man with a personality, and that’s not always a given in a CEO. His approach was certainly a welcome departure from former CEO Thorsten Heins.
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However, I can only feel for the man after watching him show off the upcoming BlackBerry Priv to Business News Network.
Firstly, the interviewer jumps to the most interesting feature on the phone – its sliding keyboard – but Chen wants to save that for last.
Then he says that it “runs Google” and tries to to open a browser. Tries being the operative word. How many times did you have to hit the Chrome icon to get a browser to open, John? And when it did open, it wasn’t set up and ready to go, making it literally just a demo in how unresponsive the screen may sometimes be.
Then Chen tries to swipe up from the middle of the screen to navigate – a BlackBerry 10 gesture, so it’s fair enough that it’s ingrained in him, but it does leave him looking like he doesn’t really know how to get around Android devices, which is strange for a man heading a company that’s now making one.
But perhaps the saddest part of all is the way he delivers the line “I think everybody loves BlackBerry 10, I really do, but there’s not enough apps.” That whole section is delivered by a man who has had to accept that there’s no coming back from the app gap, and therefore has had to turn to a rival operating system for its products.
Of course, this is a demo unit being shown off with likely pre-production hardware and software – I’d be genuinely surprised to see it hit the market with a display that unresponsive – but when the world is waiting to see what BlackBerry’s first Android will be like, this awkward video probably isn’t going to make the best first impression.