BlackBerry has launched a new smartphone that goes back to its roots. The new BlackBerry Classic is a combination of the features that has made the BlackBerrys of old a favorite in the business, government and health care markets and powerful new specs to satisfy users’ increasing mobile demands as reported TECH TIMES.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen announced the new handset at a media event in New York on Wednesday. The $449 device, which is basically an upgrade of the latest BlackBerry Bold, features the iconic QWERTY keyboard and track pad that has differentiated the first BlackBerrys from its rivals’ touchscreen smartphones as well as the call and hang-up buttons positioned below the 3.5-inch touchscreen.
“We listened closely to our customers’ feedback to ensure we are delivering the technologies to power them through their day – and that feedback led directly to the development of BlackBerry Classic,” Chen says. “By bringing back the trusted functionalities, incorporating our latest operating system and building a speedier browser, our users can feel confident they are using the best communications tool out there.”
The BlackBerry Classic is powered by a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm MSM 8960 SoC and 2GB of RAM. It features 16GB of internal storage, which is expandable to 128GB. The new device runs on BlackBerry 10 and uses the latest BlackBerry Browser, which the Canadian smartphone maker says is faster than some of the most popular mobile web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Safari, citing tests run on HTML5TEST.com.
BlackBerry’s new smartphone is all part of the embattled company’s plan to turn its fortunes around. Once one of the most dominant smartphone makers in the world, BlackBerry’s global market share has whittled down to a meager 0.5 percent, down from the nearly 10 percent it enjoyed three years ago. BlackBerry’s popularity has been surpassed as Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Android devices rose to prominence.
However, BlackBerry still retains a place in the enterprise market primarily because of its reputation as a provider of secure devices. Some of the world’s most prominent figures, from President Barack Obama to TV personality Kim Kardashian, have pledged their loyalty to BlackBerry, and the company is confident that the launch of its latest device as well as the squarish BlackBerry Passport earlier this year could help it regain some of its lost footing.
Sales figures for the Passport have not been released, but BlackBerry says the first 200,000 units were sold out right after they became available, indicating that the smartphone market still has some space left over for BlackBerry. The company is counting on the Passport, and now the Classic, as well as the launch of a new mobile management system for businesses to reach break-even status by February and become profitable again in 2016.
However, analysts are skeptical of BlackBerry’s plan, noting that although Verizon and AT&T have signed up to offer the BlackBerry Classic, they won’t be doing so until next year. Only one carrier, Bell Mobility, will offer the handset immediately, while Telus says it will make the device available next week.
“The fact that U.S. carriers won’t stock the Classic until the new year is a further sign that BlackBerry holds no power in the market anymore,” Lawrence Lundy, analyst at research firm Frost & Sullivan, says.
Others, however, say that being able to harness its own strengths will likely help BlackBerry pick itself up and dust off.
“Knowing your strengths and recognizing your weaknesses could be BlackBerry’s way back from the brink,” Uswitch.com mobiles expert Rob Kerr says. “Keyboard phones were always its strong point and this true return to form hails back to BlackBerry’s glory days. Although this handset is unlikely to capture the once strong youth market, businesses might once again come back to the fold.”