Despite analyst calls for the company to abandon its handset business, BlackBerry will release at least two smartphones in 2016. In an interview with The National, a newspaper based out in the United Arab Emirates, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said his company plans to release two new Android devices later this year.
However, unlike the Priv, they won’t be high-end devices; instead, the company plans to focus on the extremely competitive mid-range smartphone market. Chen didn’t reveal when the devices will go on sale, but did say one of the phones will include a hardware keyboard, while the other will only feature a touchscreen.
Reiterating what he said during the company’s most recent financial earnings call, Chen said BlackBerry’s first Android smartphone was priced too high. “The fact that we came out with a high end phone was probably not as wise as it should have been,” he said. “A lot of enterprise customers have said to us, ‘I want to buy your phone but $700 is a little too steep for me. I’m more interested in a $400 device’.”
It’s unclear whether a focus on the mid-range Android market will help BlackBerry salvage its once unstoppable devices division. During the company’s earnings call, Chen blamed the “saturated” premium smartphone marketplace for the Priv’s lacklustre sales, but the truth is that the entire smartphone market is saturated, especially here in the company’s home country.