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BlackBerry looks to make up for the Priv's weak sales by releasing two mid-range Android devices

By midian182
Apr 11, 2016
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  1. BlackBerry's Priv was supposed to be the device that helped turn the company’s fortunes around. But despite the impressive specs, physical keyboard, and privacy features, the firm's first Android smartphone hasn’t sold well, to the point where BlackBerry has reduced its price by $50 to $649.

    In an interview with Abu Dhabi's The National, company CEO John Chen says that the decision to sell the Priv at such a high price point “was probably not as wise as it should have been."

    BlackBerry sold 600,000 units across all phone models last quarter; for context, Samsung has shipped around 10 million S7s since it launched. To make up for these weak figures, BlackBerry will be releasing two mid-range Android devices this year.

    Chen said the Priv was “too high-end a product,” adding that a lot of enterprise customers said “I want to buy your phone, but $700 is a little too steep for me. I’m more interested in a $400 device.”

    Of the two new devices BlackBerry plans to launch, one will feature a physical keyboard and the other will come with a full touchscreen. The blurry image below, from the BBM channel of BlackBerry Central founder Dylan Habkirk, reportedly shows prototypes of the upcoming smartphones, codenamed Hamburg and Rome. Habkirk claims they will come with "two new hardware features that haven't been on a BlackBerry before."

    Chen didn’t reveal exactly when the mid-range handsets will be released. How successful the devices prove to be could have a massive impact on the future of the BlackBerry. “If I can’t make it profitable because the market won’t let me, then I’ll get out of the handset business. I love our handset business, but we need to make money," said the CEO.

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  2. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,476   +2,034

    This could prove to be a good decision but then it'll have to be high quality devices at competitive prices, a segment that Chinese manufacturers seem to own.
    How is it that Chen is still the head honcho at Blackberry? He doesn't seem to be the sharpest tool in the shed to me but perhaps that's just my perception.
     
    psycros likes this.
  3. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 2,549   +852

    If the physical keyboard one was competitive hardware wise and functioned well, I would definitely be interested, and I think alot of people would be too, if it was less than 400. At this point blackberry should be trying to sell for minimum profit to get a market share back...
     
    psycros likes this.
  4. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,319   +709

    Like most CEOs he listens primarily to his entourage of yes-men with their noses halfway up his bum. Everyone at that company who hasn't already ran for the hills will say anything to keep their jobs..I can't even imagine the atmosphere. This means that the old guard is still the dominant force at Blackberry, and most of them STILL think the enterprise is their key market. In reality that hasn't been the case for nearly a decade. Blackberry became a true household name with cheap texting devices like the Curve and mid-range models such as the 8000 series. They also happened to be as good or better than any other smartphone of the time thanks to an actual app store (no, Apple, you *didn't* invent that). And yet Chen seems almost as stuck in the past as the former pair of morons who ran the company into the ground. While I still hold out hope they can make a comeback, both BBOS 10 and the Priv have showed that the company doesn't understand who their market is. Its *never* going to be one in four mobile users again. Kids who've grown up with touchscreens have no appreciation for the improved productivity of a physical keyboard. Of course, it really doesn't matter because to most people under 30 a smartphone is primarily a toy. Its the drug they use to keep their A.D.D. going. Blackberry is painfully slow to recognize the obvious..possibly worse than Microsoft in this regard. All they need to do to survive is:

    * Put out a couple mid-range BB-ified Android with all the utility that BBOS 7 had. Basic features that made a BB a mobile office are now missing. Those MUST be restored if they expect to win back disenfranchised users. One example: every other phone on earth has single character backspace..except the Priv. A *Blackberry* without a fundamental editing feature. A virtual trackpad and button belt would be a very welcome option as well. On a slider or long candybar there's ample screen space for it, and those who would opt for a classic BB form factor aren't watching videos or playing games on their phones anyway.

    * Build an emulator for their Android phones that supports most legacy BB apps. This was a HUGE oversight.

    * A removable battery on their high end models would be a smart move. Hard core BB users always had a spare on hand. Yes, BBs have above-average battery life but professionals can't afford communications downtime.

    * Never compromise on security no matter how tempting it is to monetize your users.

    * Simplify and unify the UI. I'm not sure if its just the version of Android that comes on the Priv but there's far too much swiping and there doesn't seem to be any consistency to it. How about less swiping and more clearly labeled buttons that simply invoke different screens..like BB used to work? So much easier and quicker.
     
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.

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