Another Blackberry Tipped, Why Bother, Nobody Wants One
Some people simply don’t know when to give up, take BlackBerry Chief Executive Officer John Chen who has launched five new phones, during his two and a half years running the struggling company, now he wants to launch yet another smartphone despite several high profile failures.
Next week BlackBerry is hosting a live online event on July 26. Although it hasn’t confirmed phones will be on the agenda, Chen said that the company would talk about them in the next “week or two” and Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard said last week the next phone launch was “very, very imminent.”
Chen has said he’ll unveil two phones between now and March 2017, both running Google’s Android operating system.
A “mid-range” handset selling for about $350 is scheduled to arrive before September, the only problem is that very few carriers and even fewer retailers are set to range the new devices.
It’s a response to tepid demand for its first Android-powered phone, the high-end Priv, which Chen said had a limited audience. In Chen’s first full quarter as CEO, which ended Mar. 1, 2014, BlackBerry sold 1.3 million phones. In the most recent quarter it sold 500,000.
A new phone highlights an apparent contradiction for BlackBerry: the company has consistently said its future lies in sales of security-focused software, which recently overtook hardware as the dominant source of revenue, yet it keeps coming up with new phones. This despite the fact that some analysts say the company should cut the money-losing hardware business altogether.
“A lot of people are looking at it and saying ‘Wow I don’t know why they’re even in that business,’” John Butler, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said by phone. Chen “clearly has been struggling to find the right formula for the hardware,” Butler said.
“They’re not in a position to capture much consumer share just by making another Android device,” he said.
Earlier this month BlackBerry announced it was ending production of its Classic phone, a keyboard-equipped device modelled after the most popular phones from BlackBerry’s heyday in the late 2000s. The announcement came just days after the U.S. Senate said it would not provide BlackBerrys to staffers anymore. Chen said he went and spoke to the Senate and explained his plans for the new phones.
“They really want to test out our new products,” he said. “Everybody made it sound like we’re getting out of the handset business. It could be wishful thinking on some peoples’ part but it’s not true. Not yet at least.”