The barren husk of BlackBerry is looking to recapture a stake in the smartphone market by going back to its roots as a maker of business communication devices.
The company said that its upcoming BlackBerry Classic (née Q20) handset, which is expected to launch in November, will hearken back to the days when BlackBerry's name was synonymous with smartphones for the enterprise space.
The Classic will sport a QWERTY keyboard and a 3.5-inch touchscreen display. It will also include a row of navigation keys, with functions including "send," "back," and "end," as well as a menu button and one of the Canadian firm's hallmark mini-touchpads. It will integrate with BlackBerry's Hub messaging and email tool and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server platform.
In an open letter to customers on Wednesday, BlackBerry boss John Chen said the Classic will aim to appeal to the few remaining BlackBerry loyalists by offering what they have come to love about the platform. The CEO added that the Classic recalls the glory days of Research In Motion, which is what BlackBerry the company was called before Apple and Android came around to ruin everything.
"It's tempting in a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market to change for the sake of change – to mimic what's trendy and match the industry-standard, kitchen-sink approach of trying to be all things to all people," Chen said. "But there's also something to be said for the classic adage, if it ain't broke don't fix it."
Some would argue, however, that Blackberry is in fact very much in need of fixing. The company has seen its footprint in the smartphone space all but vanish, with recent analyst reports giving it less than 2.5 per cent of the US market.
Many analysts, meanwhile, see BlackBerry as a likely acquisition target for a larger enterprise IT firm, such as Lenovo. Such a deal could very well spell the end of the road for Chen as the company's CEO, though he'll have a tidy $89m in his back pocket to cushion his fall. ®