John Chen is overseeing a very difficult period at BlackBerry, but the CEO just confirmed rumors that two Android-powered smartphones are set to be released.
Sales of the BlackBerry Priv smartphone have been lower than predicted after a considerable amount of pre-release hype. Many analysts thought that the Priv represented the company’s last shot at success in the mobile hardware market.
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Two mid-range handsets to be released this year
However there have been persistent rumors that the company is planning to release a mid-range handset. Now Chen has confirmed that not one but two Android-powered smartphones will be released later this year.
Prior to that news there were plenty of analysts that were willing to write off the BlackBerry hardware department as a bust. Some said that the company should focus on its profitable software business instead.
Chen admitted that the Priv may have been too expensive to succeed. At $700 the handset was far too pricey given its mediocre reviews. The company recently shaved $50 off the price but even that doesn’t make a big difference in a hugely competitive market.
Now it looks as though the two new Android devices will be far cheaper, at around $300-400. One will feature the BlackBerry keyboard, while the other will rely on a touchscreen.
BlackBerry hardware looks to be on its way out
These two smartphones could well be the last that we see from BlackBerry as the company reevaluates its strategies. It has been quite a fall for the smartphone maker, which used to dominate the market.
The arrival of the iPhone shook things up and BlackBerry’s failure to adapt to a rapidly changing situation caused its eventual downfall. Things have got so bad that major apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp recently announced that they would be ending support for the BlackBerry 10 operating system, citing a small user base.
Had BlackBerry managed to release a device like the Priv around 5 years ago, it may have been able to save itself. Chen recently said that the success or failure of the Priv would indicate whether or not the company continued to make hardware.
On current evidence it would appear that the answer is no.