Blackberry Ltd.’s unveiling of a square-screen smart phone suggests the company’s goal to appeal to business and professional users, rather than everyday consumers. The device is attempt by the company’s CEO John Chen to bring Blackberry back to the forefront of mobile devices. Details of the new phone have been periodically leaked for months, culminating in introductory events tomorrow in London, Toronto and Dubai.
The phone itself is thought to have a 4.5 inch screen and qwerty keyboard that can also be used as a touch-sensitive swipe pad. The phone is to compete with Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, hoping the professional side of Blackberry’s new phone will give the company an edge over Apple. Blackberry’s phone is set to sell for $599 in the US, $50 less than the new Apple phones which hit shelves at $649.
A challenge for Blackberry has been its shrinking market due to the increased amount of employees opting to bring their own personal devices to work. Employer provided phones are estimated to have shrank to 1-1.5 million a quarter from approximately 3 million four year ago. Ed Gelburm, analyst at Citigroup Inc., says,
We therefore believe the success of the device business is once again in the hands of BlackBerry’s consumer fans, counter to CEO Chen’s enterprise first strategy.”
But competition is stiff. Apple reports selling a record 10 million iPhones the first weekend. However, many complain iPhones, though fun, lack design that allows for professional efficiency. Blackberry is currently touting it’s new product ability to provide better views of Excel spreadsheets, higher resolution for X-ray images, and a Blackberry Assistant to complete tasks while driving. While the company seems to be on the up and up, it still has a long way to go to regain its lost status.
Read more here- “Blackberry’s Square Passport Phone Targets Business Users,” (Gerrit De Vynck, Bloomberg Businessweek)