Following the launch of the Android BlackBerry Priv, the company’s CEO John Chen announced the launch of two Android smartphones by the end of the current year.
Making this announcement in a press release to a Middle Eastern website The National in an interview, Chen made it clear that the two smartphones will be mid-range handsets affordable to everyone, following requests by various enterprise customers, who were looking at smartphones in the $400 to $500 price range.
According to the report, one of the devices will sport a touchscreen, whereas the other will come with the standard QWERTY physical keyboard. Codenamed as BlackBerry Rome (physical keyboard) and BlackBerry Hamburg (full touchscreen), the two handsets will have a new hardware configuration that was not found in any BlackBerry device so far. Also in the same press release, the company’s CEO made it clear that its BB10 handsets will continue receiving updates for the BlackBerry 10 operating system. However, there will be no further new handsets coming up with this operating system.
Earlier last week, a few blurry images of the new BlackBerry phones made their appearance on Dylan Habkirk’s BlackBerry Central BBM channel. These images did not reveal much of how the gadgets would look like and one has to wait to see the looks of the final products. Nevertheless, Habkirk later shared the image of a BlackBerry patent on a fingerprint reader on his channel.
According to a report on The Verge, the BlackBerry Rome smartphone will be launched with Android Marshmallow, the most recent operating system from Android, as of date. There is no news about the operating system that will be installed in the BlackBerry Hamburg. However, this handset is expected to be released with front-facing speakers. Also, the design of the Hamburg is believed to look very much like the manufacturer’s earlier Z30 model.
These two handsets are definitely Chen’s last attempt to get BlackBerry continue functioning as a hardware company. If these two smartphones do not make it a profitable deal for him, Chen stated in his interview that he will come out of the hardware business of manufacturing handsets once and for all. Although the company loved the handset manufacturing business, he needed to make money. He also said that the launching the smartphone into the market with a top end and unappealing price tag was probably not a wise decision, especially given the fact that it was the company’s first experimentation with the Android handset.
To quote Chen, “the $700 Priv was too high-end a product” and its launch was “probably not as wise as it might have been”. This was probably why the Priv sales were incredibly low during the last quarter of the 2016 financial year, although it generally received very good reviews. With just about 600,000 Priv handsets getting sold, the company failed to meet the goal of sales of three million devices set by Wall Street for the year. A lot of people who were interested in the Priv did not do so only, because they did not have enough money to afford to buy the BlackBerry Priv that was very steeply priced.
Chen has not made it clear when the handsets will finally hit the market, although there are rumors doing the rounds that one of the smartphones will be made available this fall. The other device will take a little longer and is expected to come out by the end of the year 2016. However, there are no indications as to which of the two handsets is slated for the earlier release. One will also need to wait and see whether the Canadian manufacturer will stick to the timeline reports for releasing the handsets on time. Meanwhile, the CEO claims that BlackBerry is the only company that is capable of securing Google’s mobile OS and taking into consideration the security features available for smartphones.
For BlackBerry to continue winning the hearts of its customers, it will take much more effort than launching a couple of medium priced Android smartphones. The company will have to work out on offering quite a few catchy and hard to resist offers and that too as fast as it can, in order to retain its place among BlackBerry lovers.