BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) failed miserably to gain traction with its touchscreen BB10 smartphones last year. Now the struggling Canadian company plans to go back to its roots. BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) CEO John Chen said in an interview with Bloomberg at the Consumer Electronics Show that the Canadian company will return it focus to physical keyboard-equipped smartphones.
BlackBerry’s long-term focus on the physical keyboard
Chen said he loves keyboards. Most of BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s phones will predominantly have keyboards rather than touch screens, said John Chen. The newly appointed CEO is trying to revive BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) after last year’s BB10 devices fizzled. Poor sales of those devices resulted in writedowns worth billions of dollars. John Chen has focused on corporate and government clients as a comeback plan. Corporate clients preferred physical keyboards because that makes typing emails a lot easier.
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BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) announced last month that it has reached a five-year deal with Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd. (TPE:2354) to design and manufacture some of its smartphones. The deal will alleviate BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s burden of an unprofitable smartphone manufacturing business. Though the first Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd. (TPE:2354)-built smartphone, codenamed Jakarta, will be a touchscreen device, physical keyboard smartphones will be the major focus in the long run.
BlackBerry hires former HTC executive
BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) recently sued the Typo Keyboard company, which produces a snap-on keyboard accessory for the iPhone. The Canadian company claims that Typo Keyboard violates its patents and designs. The startup that makes the Typo Keyboard said that it will defend itself in court.
John Chen gave another indication that he is focused on corporate clients when he parted ways with Alicia Keys. The pop singer had joined BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) in January 2013 as its global creative director. Her appointment was seen as an attempt to raise the company’s popularity in mass markets. But her efforts did little to woo customers. The company also announced the appointment of former HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) executive Ron Louks as the head of its device business.
BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) shares jumped 2.37% to $8.20 in pre-market trading Tuesday. Shares are up about 30% since BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) signed the deal with Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd (TPE:2354).