John-Chen-Code-Mobile

BlackBerry planning two mid-range Android devices in 2016

BlackBerry is planning to launch two mid-range Android devices, after poor sales of its first ever Blackberry-Android device, the Priv.

BlackBerry last week announced it had sold just 600,000 handsets during the three months to the end of March, well below analyst forecasts of 850,000. Those 600,000 sales comprised not just Priv sales but also included BlackBerry 10 and BBOS phone sales.

Predictably, Chen declined to disclose how many Privs had been sold during the period.

BlackBerry ultimately admitted that its Priv was too expensive for enterprise customers, but the CEO plans to make up for it with mid-range devices.

“The fact that we came out with a high-end phone was probably not as wise as it should have been,” Chen said, referring to the expensive BlackBerry Priv.

“A lot of enterprise customers have said to us, ‘I want to buy your phone but $700 is a little too steep for me. I’m more interested in a $400 device.'”

In an interview with The National, an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, the CEO suggested that one of the devices will have a hardware keyboard while the other will be fully touchscreen. There’s no specs or release date, but they should be significantly cheaper than the Priv’s original $750 price tag. The company will again be pushing its secure-enough-for-enterprise niche as a marketing point for its handsets with Chen hinting at a price around $400.

“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.”

Chen said that while BlackBerry would continue to release security updates for their own BlackBerry 10 OS, there were no plans to launch new devices running the operating system in the foreseeable future.

Chen insisted that BlackBerry’s handset division had shown some signs of improvement during the last quarter, with losses halving compared with the previous quarter, but said that the company would exit the segment if it could not achieve profitability.

“Since I started at the company I’ve been saying I’ll make the handset business profitable. “If I can’t make it profitable because the market won’t let me, then I’ll get out of the handset business,”

“I love our handset business, but we need to make money.”

Just what BlackBerry will define as a mid-range device and price should be extremely interesting.

 

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