BlackBerry confirms it is scrapping CMO role

BlackBerry has confirmed it will not be directly replacing the role of outgoing CMO Frank Boulben, the latest in a long line of strategic moves, including the exits of two other high profile marketers within the business, which suggest the company is shifting focus away from consumers to its enterprise customers under its new management.

BlackBerry range

New CEO John Chen announced the overhaul of BlackBerry’s management team yesterday (25 November), which will see Boulben, COO Kristian Tear and CFO Brian Bidluka leaving the company.

BlackBerry is set to announce more details on the reason behind the changes and its strategy going forward when it reports its third quarter results on 20 December.

Just in the last few weeks two other senior BlackBerry marketers left the business: the former vice president of product and channel marketing Rory O’Neill, who joined Samsung’s b2b European telecommunications operations in a marketing role, and former vice president of brand Roger Baxter who it is understood left without a job to go to.

Speculation around whether BlackBerry will exit the consumer market has been accelerating since August when the company announced it was exploring a number of “strategic alternatives” to turnaround its faltering performance. In its most recent quarter, BlackBerry reported a loss of $965m, which it blamed on the “increasingly competitive business environment” that has seen it lose ground to Samsung and Apple. 

Earlier this month Chen, formerly chairman and CEO of enterprise software company Sybase, replaced Thorstein Heins as BlackBerry CEO as the company opted to raise $1bn in financing to secure its future.

Ben Wood, chief of research at mobile and wireless analysts CCS Insight, says Chen’s early moves appear to suggest BlackBerry’s shift towards its more traditional business market.

He adds: “There’s no doubt the new management will now be considering the new strategy and how that will be supported from a marketing perspective. There is definitely still a role for marketing but it will be very different, tactical, business-focused activity.

“The biggest thing BlackBerry needs to do right now is reassure its most important corporate customers in a more direct way, by getting on planes and pushing money to its sales force rather than the big above the line campaigns and sponsorships.

“That will require a very different talent to someone like Frank [Boulben] who came from the consumer space.”