Formerly called the BlackBerry Q20
, the BlackBerry Classic has already been announced by CEO John Chen
in Barcelona during MWC in February. What makes this phone special is some of the "old school" features that Chen is putting back on the phone. More on those in a minute. In USA Today
, Chen was interviewed by long time stockmarket journalist Maria Bartiromo and mentioned that the BlackBerry Classic will offer a zippy browser (which ironically has become a trademark of the new BlackBerry 10), multimedia capabilities, a QWERTY keyboard and a "good touchscreen".
While Chen mentioned that the device was an enhanced version of the BlackBerry Bold
, he failed to repeat some of the throwback features that make the BlackBerry Classic, well, uh, classic. For example, this handset will have a touch pad, giving users the ability to navigate the device with something other than their finger on the 3.5 inch touchscreen. It will also feature function keys that have long been removed, never to be seen on newer BlackBerry models. The battery life is expected to be the longest on any BlackBerry phone.
"There's a new product called the BlackBerry Classic that's coming out. It's an updated and enhanced version of one of our most popular and successful products called the Bold. It will include a keyboard and a good touch-screen, very fast Internet, Web-browsing capability and multimedia capability. But also it will be very productive and very secure. So, all the familiar things that people love, with some new technology updated. That will come out in November along with the server that helps companies manage devices. Not only the BlackBerry device, but every device, the iPhone and Androids and Windows and everything else. So, the new products will have a lot to do with the architecture. And we made some announcements of those at the Mobile World Congress."-John Chen, CEO, BlackBerry
BlackBerry CEO Chen said in the interview, that this phone will come out in November at the same time that BES12 will be released. Made for the MDM market, BES12 will allow a company to manage a fleet of smartphones, even if some are iOS, Android or Windows Phone models.
While this all sounds like good news on the surface, the main question is whether BlackBerry fans wanting a new handset will have the will power to wait until November for the BlackBerry Classic. After all, there will be a number of new Android and Windows Phone handsets available. And yes, even the Apple iPhone 6
will be tempting the BlackBerry fan, well before November. When Chen talks about a six month
wait for a new model that the company is counting on to turn things around at Waterloo, it is bound to make even the most die hard BlackBerry fan do his best Scooby Doo imitation and say Ruh Roh
With the success that John Chen has had before at Sybase, perhaps he should receive the benefit of the doubt. He does have a financial plan in place, one that calls for BlackBerry to be showing positive operating cash flow at the end of this fiscal year. Within the fiscal year after that, he sees the company back in the black. Overall, he calls this a six-to-eight quarter journey. Right now, the sharp drop in BlackBerry's market share isn't bothering him, because the company has a higher share in enterprise, and that is where BlackBerry will focus its smartphone business until that becomes profitable, At that point, he will move back into the consumer space.
"On the other hand, I am going to focus very much on the enterprise space. If you look at the enterprise users of smartphone, we have a much bigger share. That's not to say I gave up on the consumer market, but at this point in the recovery, we're going to focus on the enterprise side of the handset business, make that profitable, and then we're going to grow from there. Then go into other parts of the market, including the consumer side of the equation."-John Chen, CEO, Blackberry
Chen considers BlackBerry the number one provider of tech security in mobile and wireless. He also talks in the interview about monetizing BBM. A lot of what he said to Bartiromo, were answers that we have heard before from him since he took over the CEO role at BlackBerry late last year.