The CEO of Blackberry John Chen told Abu Dhabi’s The National that they will be releasing two Android smartphones this year. They will differ from the Blackberry Priv, launched last year, which was inaccessible for many due to the high price point. One of the launches will feature a physical keyboard which is Blackberry’s trademark style, whereas the other will feature a touchscreen.
Blackberry released their first Android-powered smartphone late last year, the Priv, however it has not been successful in terms of sales since the launch. It was inferior in performance to other devices which are also Android-powered, and available at the same price.
Chen stated that the unpopularity of the Priv was due to the fault of the company itself, as they emerged into the Android smartphone market with the wrong device, and with the wrong price, making it inaccessible. He said: “The fact that we came out with a high end phone [as our first Android device] was probably not as wise as it should have been”. The Blackberry Priv was priced at $699 when it was first launched, however the price has now lowered to $649. The new Android smartphones which will be released by Blackberry this year, will be marketed at a mid-price point, making it accessible for many more customers.
The success of the new launches is unclear for now, as it will be difficult for Blackberry to encourage customers that they are offering better value and performance than manufacturers who have considerably more experience in creating Android devices, such as Samsung. Blackberry has also retained their original trademark design, however it is yet unknown whether this will assist or hinder their newest venture into the Android smartphone market. Chen is adamant that the 2016 launches will be a huge success, telling The National: “We’re the only people who really secure Android, taking the security features of BlackBerry that everyone knows us for and make it more reachable for the market”.
The company’s recent hardware venture highlights the need to include distinctive qualities in a smartphone to make it successful, or to merge with a superior company when newly entering a market. For example, Blackberry’s emergence into the Android market.
The official release date of the new launches have not been announced yet, however they are highly anticipated as they carry huge potential for the company. The success of the two new Android smartphones this year, will make it clear whether Blackberry should continue to manufacture hardware, or focus more on their attainable areas of growth, such as software and services. Blackberry’s software and services department has considerable potential and is projected a 30% growth this year.