BlackBerry to Deliver One Last Keyboard Phone

BlackBerry has a new phone in the works, and it will have a physical keyboard, according to reports that surfaced last week.

The company recently announced that it would exit the Smartphone hardware market and transition to developing back-end mobile security software. BlackBerry released the touch screen-only DTEK50 handset this summer, saying at the time that it would be the last official BlackBerry device. However, the company has said that it would license its name to other companies, which then could produce devices under the BlackBerry brand.

The last BlackBerry device to feature an actual physical QWERTY keyboard was the Priv, which was released a year ago. It was the first BlackBerry device to utilize the Android operating system, but it largely faltered in the market.

It isn’t clear if the upcoming phone will run on BlackBerry OS 10 or Android. No details, including specs, availability or pricing, have been announced for the new device.

Not the End of the Line?

This sudden about-face could be a sign that BlackBerry isn’t ready to make a complete exit from the market, even though its latest efforts have been less than encouraging.

Although the BlackBerry Classic won praise for surpassing the average lifespan for a Smartphone in today’s market, BlackBerry this summer announced that it would cease manufacturing it.

Keying It In

Google and Apple were able to bring the Smartphone to the masses with touch screen-enabled devices, but that leaves open the door for another market segment.

“There are executives and others who like the physical keyboard, and if BlackBerry can make a case that they can fill this need, then they can have a small part of the market,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Bigger Plans

The Priv may not have appealed to the BlackBerry faithful, but if done right, a BlackBerry device running Android — made under license — could be a win-win.

“If the new device turns out to be an Android phone or if there’s an Android version, then it could turn out to be a way toward finding a niche in that much larger market”. “There are consumers who prefer physical keyboards, and BlackBerry could use its considerable brand equity to capture that corner of the Android universe,” he pointed out.

Still, past results should be seen as portents of BlackBerry’s chances of scoring big with a niche device.