Date
12 December 2017
With the new Classic smartphone, BlackBerry hopes to woo those still using older versions of its physical keyboard devices. Photo: Reuters
With the new Classic smartphone, BlackBerry hopes to woo those still using older versions of its physical keyboard devices. Photo: Reuters

BlackBerry launches Classic to woo keyboard loyalists

In a bid to win back market share, BlackBerry has launched its long-awaited Classic smartphone which features the physical keyboard of its older models.

The Canadian mobile technology company said the new device, which bears striking similarities to its once wildly popular Bold and Curve handsets, boasts a larger screen, longer battery life, an expanded app library with access to offerings from Amazon.com’s Android App store, and a browser three times faster than the one on its older versions, Reuters reported.

“The conversation about BlackBerry has changed in the last year,” chief executive John Chen was quoted as saying during Classic’s launch in Manhattan on Wednesday. “We are here to stay, there is no question about that. Now we have to engineer our growth.”

He said BlackBerry had listened to its fans and brought back the command bar functionality that helped make its legacy phones easy to navigate.

When the company initially introduced its new BlackBerry 10 operating system and devices early in 2012 it put more emphasis on touchscreens, alienating many fans of its physical keyboard, the report said.

Those who moved to the new physical keyboard phones that BlackBerry launched later were unhappy that command keys such as the Menu, Back, Send and End buttons, along with the trackpad had been dropped.

With the Classic and the recent launch of its Passport smartphone, Chen is in some ways taking the company back to its roots, re-emphasizing the physical keyboard, rather than trying to compete directly against the touchscreen handsets of dominant rivals like Samsung Electronics and Apple, according to the news agency.

“We expect the Classic to be the most popular BlackBerry enterprise device and the easiest transition for current BB7 [legacy device] users,” Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um said.

The company’s stock was up 5.2 percent in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.

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CG

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