BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) has no plans to close up its smartphone division in the foreseeable future, according to two senior executives, even though the company has made a major refocus on software and services, says a report from Reuters. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company recently launched an unconventional square-shaped BlackBerry Passport.
BlackBerry loyalists- potential opportunity
In its latest earnings report, the company earned a gross profit from its weak handset operation in addition to posting a smaller than expected overall loss. There are approximately 50 million BlackBerry loyalists across the world who are still clinging to their old generation BB devices, which according to executives means there is still potential for growth.
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Ron Louks, head of the device division, said that now that the company has brought down losses it can take risks and launch at least one unconventional device a year.
Louks added, “When it comes to design and being a little bit disruptive, we want that ‘wow’ factor,” and “Not all of the products will have it, but we definitely have opportunities.” According to Louks, the company is working on another unconventional design and has also received some positive feedback from carriers.
Chen hints on new devices
The square Passport attracted mixed reviews with some applauding the battery life, wide screen and touch sensitive keyboard, while others found it difficult to operate with one hand. Louks, however, indicated that the company is already testing another device that will be easier to hold and operate with one hand. He also said that the company is heading in the right direction and believes the demand for Passport might be greater than expected.
On Friday, the company announced that it has received 200,000 orders for the Passport, which sold out on Amazon within six hours. CEO John Chen interacted with media after the quarterly results and said that there will be some new devices launched at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in 2015. Chen said that given the popularity of Passport, “I know that we’ll have at least another generation of that device.” Chen is also hoping BlackBerry Classic to receive the same popularity “and I’ve spoken with a lot of people that want it … so I think we will have another iteration on that, and there will be a new concept device too.” BlackBerry is planning to launch Classic smartphones, a phone similar to its Bold model, by the end of this year.
On Monday, analysts at JPMorgan, UBS, BMO and other brokerages revised their target prices for BlackBerry upwards.