BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) is finally giving up on the consumer smartphone industry, which may be its best move in a long time. CEO John Chen certainly seems to be more in tune with reality, and this week he explained why they are no longer trying to kill Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone.
Indeed, that’s a feat no company may be able to accomplish, and certainly BlackBerry as it stands.
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It’s OK that the Passport won’t kill the iPhone
Writing on CNBC, Chen said it’s fine that their new square-shaped Passport smartphone won’t be an iPhone killer. He said they’re targeting “serious users who care about serious productivity,” which certainly won’t include all iPhone users.
He added that the feedback they have received on the Passport so far has been “excellent” and that their target audience is “excited” that there’s a smartphone that targets their needs as well as their desires. Chen said they’ll give anyone who thinks the square-shaped Passport is weird some time to change their minds.
In addition, he said that while they understand that being different isn’t easy, it is the only way to stand out from the crowd.
BlackBerry targets a niche
Chen said they aren’t expecting to sell a Passport to every smartphone user, particularly the ones who like to use their iPhones to play games. They are specifically targeting business professionals and their mobile needs, especially those who need their smartphone to get their jobs done. Chen said most smartphones are designed to help users kill time rather than make the most of it, but the Passport is designed with productivity in mind.
The BlackBerry executive reminds consumers that they’ve improved the battery life and the display and also added a multi-function keyboard to the Passport. They also seamlessly integrated contacts and documents across multiple devices and aggregated all types of messages into a single hub.
He also highlighted BlackBerry Blend, which gives access to everything, from documents to email and contacts, across all devices and operating systems.
BlackBerry surveys business users
Chen also said they actually surveyed business smartphone users over the summer, speaking with over 9,500 people all around the globe. They found that almost 70% of them wanted to become more productive on their smartphones. Chen added that the average professional estimates that mobility saves them about five hours a week by enabling them to work anywhere, anytime.
In addition, he said mass market smartphones don’t address these needs, which is why they made the Passport. He said it addresses the three top concerns of business users: battery life, security, ease of typing and connectivity.