CES 2014: BlackBerry to refocus on smartphones with physical keyboards

BlackBerry Q10 keyboard

As BlackBerry continues to refocus on enterprise and business customers, new BlackBerry CEO John Chen told Bloomberg Television at CES 2014 that the company will shift its attention back to smartphones with physical keyboards. Without directly acknowledging that the first BlackBerry 10 device for 2014, known as Jakarta, will be a touchscreen device, he explained that future phones will “predominantly” come with physical QWERTY keyboards.

BlackBerry launched its new BlackBerry 10 platform with the BlackBerry Z10 all-touch smartphone in early 2013. Sales proved far worse than the company expected, leading to a US$934 million inventory writedown charge that it called the “Z10 Inventory Charge” in its Q2 2014 financial results. Results were no better in the next quarter as BlackBerry only recognized revenues on hardware for a mere 1.9 million BlackBerry devices.

Proving how important keyboards are to BlackBerry, the company just announced that it is suing Typo, the makers of a keyboard case accessory for the Apple iPhone 5, over alleged patent infringement.

Chen reiterated that BlackBerry’s new partnership with Foxconn will focus on emerging markets for now. Foxconn will design and manufacture a number of devices but BlackBerry is reportedly still designing higher-end models in-house. Among them could be the upcoming models codenamed Windermere and Ontario.

Chen also commented on BlackBerry’s hiring of Ron Louks who previously worked for both HTC and Sony Ericsson, to head up the Devices division. “Ron’s a very creative guy,” he said. “I think he’s more in touch with not only the technology and design to make a phone great but how people like the phone.”

Here’s hoping that 2014 is kinder to BlackBerry than the last few years have been.

Source : Bloomberg