BlackBerry are not getting rid of the physical keyboard

Earlier this week, BlackBerry announced that it’s planning to discontinue its Classic smartphone, the last BlackBerry handset to feature the traditional keyboard and trackpad dominating the face of the phone. The Classic handset was introduced in an attempt to appeal to users who still prefer to use plastic keys and track pads rather than completely touchscreen devices.

The news was announced on a corporate blog post written by the Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Devices at BlackBerry, Ralph Pinni who said,

“To keep innovating and advancing our portfolio, we are updating our smartphone lineup with state of the art devices. As part of this, and after many successful years in the market, we will no longer manufacture BlackBerry Classic.”

“…the Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today’s market. We are ready for this change so we can give our customers something better – entrenched in our legacy in security and pedigree in making the most productive smartphones.”

However, this post was wrongly taken by many media outlets as a story that BlackBerry was ditching physical keyboards altogether. Some outlets, like The New York Times updated its story, but the damage was already done. Other media outlets had not only reported that the keyboard was being ditched but that this was another sign that BlackBerry 10 OS was being ended.

Indeed many outlets went further and reported it as an end to BlackBerry smartphones completely.

BlackBerry senior vice president of device sales Alex Thurber tried to clear up the confusion on Twitter.

Priv and Passport

The irony is that you can currently get a physical keyboard with the BlackBerry Passport (running BB10) and BlackBerry Priv (running Android) handsets. If that wasn’t enough, BlackBerry Ceo John Chen announced months ago that BlackBerry are due to release two Android handsets and one of those will come with a physical keyboard.

So if BlackBerry have two current handsets with physical keyboards and an upcoming handset with a physical keyboard, why did so many of the media report the contents of a blog post incorrectly? That’s a question that’s been asked by BlackBerry fans so many times, for so many years, and there appears to be no definitive answer.

Mainstream Media and BlackBerry

The mainstream media will never spoil a good story with the truth! When it comes to smartphones, it is undeniable that BlackBerry as a brand is severely damaged, and has been for years but it is also pretty clear the media take a huge portion of the blame for that.  So many times over the years has a story about BlackBerry been inaccurate or blatantly misrepresented by the mass media.

The blog post about the Classic being discontinued being turned into a “story” about ALL physical keyboard smartphones being discontinued just happens to be a perfect example. It is not even close to what was posted by Pini in the blog post, and a little knowledge of BlackBerry’s existing phones and upcoming phones would indicate that the evidence quite clearly shows BlackBerry have no intention of giving up on producing smartphones with a physical keyboard.

Personally, I think there are many in the media (and other areas) that just wish that BlackBerry would go away. The more negative stories that are published, the chance of that happening increases, would seem to be the modus operandi of many in the media.

Do BlackBerry need to take some responsibility?

Without a shadow of a doubt, BlackBerry need to take some responsibility for the situation.  It has become a recent trend for BlackBerry CEO John Chen to say something in an interview, the media to report what he said, and for Chen to then take to the BlackBerry blogs to “correct” what he actually meant to say, opposed to what was reported he said.  That trend is now being carried on to BlackBerry’s own blogs.

The huge problem here is that once the articles go out, they spread like wildfire and are reproduced “everywhere”.  BlackBerry then go into damage control mode to rectify the “reports” but by then it is far too late. The damage that has been done is irreversible and no published corrections or denials can undo that damage.

What doesn’t make sense is that BlackBerry are more than aware of the situation and yet they continue to provide ammunition for these outlets.

In my personal opinion, Ralph Pini’s blog post about discontinuing the Classic was needless and totally unnecessary. Those who follow BlackBerry were already aware of the fact and all it did was create a massive amount of further negative publicity about BlackBerry.

Personally, I think many of those who write for BlackBerry’s blog need to read through an article before they hit that ‘publish’ button. Is there anything that can be misconstrued or misrepresented by the media?. If so, edit it so it can’t be “twisted” in any way. They shouldn’t have to do that, but as they are writing for BlackBerry it is a necessary step.

The other area where I would blame BlackBerry is in the lack of speed in responding to media requests.  In the story I highlight next, it took BlackBerry’s PR 48 hours to get back to us with a comment. That is far too long when the enquiry is clarification of a really important issue.

Do BlackBerry “fans” need to take some responsibility?

BlackBerry fans take a lot of the responsibility for the current situation. At Rapid Mobile, we are not a “fan site” and tend to stick to real news, whether that be good or bad. Most of our readers are business and enterprise users and have come to expect that. However, occasionally an article about BlackBerry will attract their fans and the results verge from the hilarious to outright hostility.

As an example, at the end of June, I published an article BlackBerry 10 devices discontinued, BlackBerry reportedly inform Verizon and AT&T. In that article, I deliberately wrote the following parts:

  • I used the word “reportedly” in the title.
  • “While BlackBerry 10 phones will apparently no longer be produced”
  • “they will continue to support BlackBerry 10″
  • If BlackBerry have discontinued the production of all BlackBerry 10 smartphones”
  • “While many think that BlackBerry should give up smartphones all-together, BlackBerry CEO John Chen is pretty adamant that this will not happen until every single avenue has been explored.”

I thought I had made it clear that despite the email contents (which turned out to be correct) it was not necessarily the end of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, or indeed BlackBerry 10 as an OS.  While our business and enterprise readers did realise that, some BlackBerry “fans” didn’t think so – and that is a problem.

BlackBerry “fans” have been split into two camps – those who agree with the move to Android smartphones, and those who think BlackBerry 10 is the best thing since sliced bread.  Unfortunately, there is no love lost between them and it seems that both camps would love to see the other side fail. This is an unhealthy situation and is leading to BlackBerry getting tons of negative comments from their own “fans”.

Writing BlackBerry articles is becoming a minefield where the writer knows they can’t win.  Whatever the subject matter, it will either be met with disdain from one of the two afore-mentioned camps. How on earth can BlackBerry win this perceived war with the media, when even their own “fans” are contributing to the negativity?

In my view, if you are a “fan” of BlackBerry then you should be supporting them in ALL their endeavours, whether that be BlackBerry 10 or Android.

How do you get accurate BlackBerry news?

So if BlackBerry news is being misrepresented in so many places, how do readers get factual, unbiased information about BlackBerry these days. It’s not as difficult as it appears.  If you read some negative press about BlackBerry, don’t take it as verbatim – even if it appears all over your news feed.  Check out the following to see if there is any “valid” clarification of what you have read.

Rapid Mobile

Obviously, continue to follow Rapid Mobile and we will continue to report BlackBerry news, both good and bad. We can’t promise that every BlackBerry story will be pro-BlackBerry but it will be genuine.


Unfortunately, most BlackBerry fan sites have given up and while there are one or two tiny fan sites left, they tend to have no credibility and are more like small radical, self-appointed sites wanting to push their opinion and agenda at you. Those type of sites, as small as they are, do as much damage as the main media who publish incorrect information.

However, BlackBerry has one credible fan site and that is CrackBerry.  Chris Parsons, a person I have the utmost respect for, runs CrackBerry and does a fantastic job of reporting BlackBerry news as it happens.  Unusually for a fan site, CrackBerry does try to report BlackBerry news with very little bias. If you are looking for reliable BlackBerry information, the news side of CrackBerry should not be missed.

BlackBerry Blogs

BlackBerry’s own blogs tend to range from great articles from BlackBerry staff  who know what they are talking about to dross by a lot of “writers” who appear to be interns.

Personally, I recommend BlackBerry’s Business and Developer blogs as a great resource for BlackBerry information.  On the Developers blog, guys like Bryan Van Engelen, Senior Marketing Analyst, Ecosystem & Developer Outreach and Lou Gazolla, App Ecosystem and Developer Outreach team – and others – do a fantastic job of keeping  enterprise developers up to date.

On the Business blog, many other writers will keep you accurately up to date with what is going on in the Enterprise and business sphere.

Both these blogs are highly recommended and shouldn’t be missed.
BlackBerry Enterprise Software

Are BlackBerry going away?

BlackBerry as a company are going nowhere.  While you may be aware of BlackBerry’s pedigree in security, the company is more than just about security, or smartphones these days.  BlackBerry are slowly but surely transforming themselves into a first class software first company.

Just a few small examples include:

  • Good Secure EMM suite lets you easily manage users, apps, devices, business content, policies and data costs.
  • BES12, included in Good Secure EMM Suites, supports multiple ownership models on devices running iOS, Android, Samsung KNOX, Android for Work, Windows, Windows Phone, MacOS X and BlackBerry.
  • WatchDox is the world leader in secure Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS).
  • Athoc unifies crisis communications within and between organizations, their people, devices, and external entities.
  • Good Dynamics enables app owners to deploy apps, developers to more quickly develop apps and IT to ensure the apps conform to security baselines

Of course, when it comes to smartphones, BlackBerry has two upcoming Android smartphones on the way.

BlackBerry is now a true cross-platform company. Android users are BlackBerry users. iOS users are BlackBerry users. Quite simply, whatever platform you are running, BlackBerry has a solution for you.

So next time, you hear BlackBerry are dead, dying or similar, check the above recommended places to verify if what you are reading is true or not.

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