BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s recent devices have not been welcomed by smartphone users and mobile carriers. However, with the recently-launched Classic, things are looking different, at least from the side of the carriers.
Will the BlackBerry Classic restore carrier support?
BlackBerry is going through a turnaround phase under CEO John Chen, who is trying his best to make the company profitable. In the hopes of reviving its handset business, the company is releasing new devices, and the latest release from the company is the much-awaited Classic. A few features of older BlackBerry devices have grown in popularity, and the Classic restores those features to provide loyal fans with a familiar experience.
Carrier support had been a major reason for BlackBerry’s success in its days of glory. This has been missing the few years, however, now a commitment has been made by a major carrier in the U.S. to provide the Classic with marketing support. Steve Hodges, president of the northeast region of AT&T Mobile, said all AT&T stores will carry the Classic device across the United States.
In New York during the launch event for the Classic, Mr. Hodges said, “I can’t wait to see this product all throughout the country.” Apart from AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), the Classic will be offered by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and by seven major European carriers, including Vodafone Group PLC, Orange SA and Telefonica SA. In Canada, the device will be offered by Telus Corp., Rogers Communications and BCE.
Still a long way to go
These agreements are a positive sign for BlackBerry, as they show the growing faith of users and carriers, but the company is still far from the status it enjoyed earlier, says a report from The Globe and Mail.. Previously, BlackBerry was featured prominently in costly marketing campaigns backed by carriers. From these campaigns worth tens of millions of dollars, the company benefited hugely. Samsung’s and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s products have now acquired that domain.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen said during the launch, “When I first showed up [carriers were] a missing part of the equation,” but acknowledged, “It will take a little bit of time” for the Canadian company to reach a level at which carriers are ready to invest serious money in marketing.
BlackBerry still has a long way to go to regain the position it once enjoyed in the handset market, and it remains to be seen for now if the big marketing push from U.S. carriers can be relied upon to achieve this.