BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s demo of the Priv to BNN’s Amber Kanwar, their new Android-based QWERTY phone, should’ve been the bright spot in a bad news-filled day (they’d missed their 2Q15 target, for which the bar was already pretty low). Unfortunately, he was unprepared, improvising, and working with a device that hadn’t yet been fully set up and whose OS was unfamiliar to him.
The Android OS that the Priv runs on was so new to him that he had trouble launching Chrome, which meant that he couldn’t do a proper demo of the keyboard’s capacitive-touch scrolling, and the swiping motions he was using had no effect because they were BlackBerry 10 gestures. The most telling thing, however, was his saying that the Priv “runs Google“.
The “priv [rhymes with give] stands for privacy” line was also painful, and it telegraphs Chen’s general unpreparedness for Amber Kanwar’s questions in the rest of the video. I understand that he’s got a lot on his plate, but maybe it’s time for someone else to do these demos, and let Chen focus on his reputed turnaround magic.
If you take away just one lesson from this video, let it be this: if you’re expected to demo something that’s new to you (like a new product that uses an operating system you normally don’t use), you need to practice, practice, and practice again. If you want to take away an additional lesson, it’s that you should try to anticipate the questions you’ll be asked, and try to have some answers — or be ready to change the topic.