In a recent interview with USA Today’s Maria Bartiromo, BlackBerry CEO John Chen spoke optimistically about a new product the company will release in November, called the BlackBerry Classic.
“It’s an updated and enhanced version of one of our most popular and successful products called the Bold,” he said. “It will include a keyboard and a good touch-screen, very fast Internet, Web-browsing capability and multimedia capability. But also it will be very productive and very secure. So, all the familiar things that people love, with some new technology updated.”
The new device is rumoured to have some of the things loyal users loved and lost with the new phones, including an optical trackpad and function keys.
Is it just me or does this sound like a good, perhaps more precisely obvious idea?
The BlackBerry Classic sounds not only like the device its fans wanted last year when the BlackBerry 10 operating system was introduced with the Z10 and Q10, but really should be the only BlackBerry the company makes and markets. Let’s be frank, the days when BlackBerry could be all things to all people are over. The company needs to focus on its strengths and pack every bit of innovation and functionality into a single device.
To his credit, Chen has been focusing on the things BlackBerry does best. Security. Enterprise management. Keyboards. The keyboard has always been tops on the list of things loyal BlackBerry users like about the devices, and BlackBerry has several patents around it. Heavy users will tell you others may copy it, but they just don’t feel the same. Even Ryan Seacrest tried to get in on the action, to what looks like will be little avail.
Does the idea of a single, solitary BlackBerry sound extreme? I don’ t think so. There are, just to be clear, more extreme ideas out there. Like the one that BlackBerry shouldn’t make devices at all anymore. One analyst, Cormark’s Richard Tse recently posited how this could move BlackBerry instantly to 77% gross margins.
And while Chen, for a time, sounded like he was open to the possibility of that scenario at various times since he assumed the role as BlackBerry boss, he recently backed away from the idea, taking to BlackBerry’s blog to says that the company isn’t leaving the device market “any time soon”.
As it stands now users can choose from the BlackBerry Q5, Q10, Z10 and the Z30. But BlackBery faithful and the larger market have spoken. There is no shelf space for New BlackBerry, Cherry BlackBerry, Vanilla or Diet BlackBerry. They are merely niche’s of an already niche product. Only BlackBerry Classic, a distillation of everything the company does best, has a real shot at carving out its own place in the hyper-competitive world of mobile phones.
The BlackBerry Classic represents, after years of frustrating its user base, a chance for the company to move closer to it again.
Below: John Chen talks about the BlackBerry Q20, now renamed the BlackBerry Classic…