BlackBerry goes back to basics with Q20

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BlackBerry goes back to basics with Q20
The Z3

Opens BBM to other operating systems.

BlackBerry today unveiled a new, cheaper touchscreen smartphone and a "classic" model with a keyboard as it tries to stem losses and win back once-devoted security-conscious business and government users.

The news, coupled with more details about the company's strategy in its services business, helped send shares in BlackBerry surging more than 9 percent.

The new, high-end "classic" BlackBerry - the Q20 - will be available before the end of the year with a traditional BlackBerry layout. It is aimed squarely at the company's original core business and government customers.

The reintroduction of Blackberry's traditional keyboard was at the top of customers' wish list, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said.

The line of keys that included the 'Menu,' 'Back,' 'Send' and 'End' buttons, along with a trackpad, had been dropped on its high-end Q10 keyboard device that was launched last year.

The lack of the familiar keys, coupled with the device's all new BlackBerry 10 operating system, had left many long time fans disenchanted with the Q10 device.

Earlier this week BlackBerry also announced it would open its BBM messaging service to other operating systems, specifically Windows Phone and Nokia X.

Enterprise strategy

Chen's strategy is to focus more on its profitable services segment that helps its large government and corporate clients manage and secure mobile devices on their internal networks.

Admitting the company had spread itself "a little too thin," he said it would focus on the 30 percent of the enterprise market where the strength of BlackBerry's operating system in terms of security played best - regulated industries like banking and telecommunications, and government.

"We don't want to lose the rest of the market ... but for the next 18 months I think you see us very much intent on going back and winning the regulated industries," he said.

He also unveiled changes to the company's mobile device management tool for companies and government, taking prices lower with the aim of winning back some of the market share lost to competitors.

Lower-end Z3 arrives

Under a partnership deal with FIH Mobile, the Hong Kong-listed unit of Foxconn, BlackBerry will make available the sub-US$200 Z3 smartphone (codenamed Jakarta) in Indonesia in April.

Chen said BBM was proving popular in the country.

"It's a 3G phone, and we have a plan to expand the phone to different parts of southeast Asia after Indonesia," he said at the annual Mobile World Congress trade fair in Barcelona. "We have a plan to go global with an LTE (high speed 4G) version of it sometime in the future."

The five-year Foxconn deal, signed last year, means BlackBerry no longer pays upfront for parts used in its devices. Instead, Foxconn will take a share of profits on each device in return for taking on inventory management.


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