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Another problem for BlackBerry's John Chen: His wife loves her Samsung Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, Nov. 10, 2014.

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Chen on BlackBerry
John Chen tells an interesting story to the Financial Times: The man who’s turning around BlackBerry Ltd. was embarrassed by his wife’s Samsung.

“There were a couple of parties we went to and, when my wife brought out the Samsung, everyone kind of looked at me funny,” John Chen told the news organization in a lengthy interview.

“So eventually I said she needed to use a BlackBerry. ‘No, I like my Samsung,’ she said, and I told her she was embarrassing me.”

The newspaper’s David Crow, having tea with Mr. Chen in New York, writes today of how Mr. Chen has stopped the bleeding at BlackBerry and boosted the ailing smartphone maker’s stock price.

Mr. Chen told the news outlet that BlackBerry erred when it “wandered off” to chase the consumer market, and while he halted its decline, “the hardest part is yet to come” in terms of growth.

Mr. Chen also said morale isn’t in “top shape,” but isn’t as low as many believe, that “people still love the keyboard and security is very important and that BlackBerry’s new Passport is part of a push to “make our devices a bit more pleasing to those people.”

Mr. Chen added that he believes BlackBerry could lead in areas other than handsets, such as the Internet of Things, and that "I hope today there is very little question of whether we’re going to survive.”

And my personal favourite: Is his wife still sneaking off with her Samsung?

“That I wouldn’t know. There might be a lot of secrets I don’t know.”

Mr. Chen is now in China, meeting with companies such as Lenovo Group Ltd. in a chase for partnerships.

Russia near recession
Plunging oil prices and economic sanctions have driven Russia to the brink, The Globe and Mail’s Eric Reguly reports.

The country’s central bank today forecast no economic growth next year, assuming sanctions hold and assuming oil prices average $95 (U.S.) a barrel.

The oil assumption is “brave” given current prices, our European bureau chief writes.

The ruble, which has been under extreme pressure, rose amid the new forecast.

That was probably the result of its earlier announcement that would intervene in currency markets to prop up the currency if its collapse becomes a threat to financial stability.

Housing starts slip
Is the pace of Condo Nation slowing? Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. thinks so.

Residential construction starts across the country slipped in October to an annual pace of 183,604, from 197,355 in September, CMHC said today.

“The decrease in the trend reflects a decline, in October, of starts of multi-unit dwellings, including condominiums,” said Bob Dugan, the agency’s chief economist.

“Given the elevated level of condominium units under construction, our expectation is that condominium starts will continue to trend lower over the coming months.”

The province of British Columbia led the decline in starts in urban areas, CMHC said.

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