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Chen: BlackBerry could go software only by September

Blackberry Passport
Aaron Harris | Reuters

BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the company may focus on software only, if the profitability of its hardware doesn't improve.

Chen said in September 2015 that he needed one year to make the device profitable. He told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" that he intends to keep that promise and believes it will get to profitability.

"If by September, I couldn't find a way to get there, then I need to seriously consider being a software company only," said Chen on Friday.

The company's stock was down nearly 5 percent Friday.

Earlier Friday, BlackBerry posted a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss, on the back of restructuring and acquisition related costs.

The smartphone industry pioneer, which lost its early lead in the market to bigger rivals like Apple, said revenue fell to $464 million in the quarter from $660 million a year earlier. Analysts had expected $563.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters.

Chief Executive John Chen told analysts on a call that smartphone sales were below company expectations, partly due to delays in contract negotiations with carriers, including Verizon, about its Android-based Priv device.

"The softness at the high end of the smartphone market is certainly a headwind, but the main issue that we face and that we need to address is the distribution," said Chen on a call.

He said BlackBerry's cost-cutting efforts mean the company now only has to sell 3 million devices at an average selling price of around $300 per device, in order to break even on that business. He had previously estimated BlackBerry needed to sell 5 million annually to achieve this.

The company reported a net loss of $238 million, or 45 cents a share. That compared with year ago profit of $28 million, or 5 cents a share.

Excluding one-time items, the company posted a loss of $18 million, or 3 cents a share in the current quarter.

--CNBC's Lenore Fedow contributed to this story.