BlackBerry has gone back to basics with its new flagship phone, the BlackBerry Q20, which features a full keyboard and “classic” buttons.
The struggling mobile firm said it made the decision to release a full-keyboard phone after receiving “feedback from its millions of passionate Qwerty customers around the world”. BlackBerry may also have been inspired by the struggling sales of its full-touchscreen Z10, while the full-keyboard Q10 reportedly sold a little bit better.
The Q20 goes even further back to basics for BlackBerry, featuring what it describes as its “classic” physical buttons – Menu, Back, Send and End, as well as a integrated trackpad – that make it possible to type out messages with one hand. The keys themselves are “sculpted” for faster typing.
“In my first 90 days on the job, I consistently heard from our ardent BlackBerry customers that the hard buttons and trackpad are an essential part of the BlackBerry Qwerty experience, that made their BlackBerry smartphone their go-to productivity tool,” said new CEO John Chen. “I want these customers to know that we heard them, and this new smartphone will be for them.”
The BlackBerry Q20 runs the BlackBerry 10 OS and has a 3.5in touchscreen display – which the company said is the largest display yet on one of its Qwerty phones. BlackBerry has boosted the battery life from previous handsets, but didn’t reveal any further specs or details. The Q20 will arrive in the second half of the year.
The company also confirmed the rumoured “Jakarta” handset will arrive as the Z3, a 5in touchscreen handset for less than $200. It will sell in Indonesia first, before a wider rollout.
BBM for business
BlackBerry said it’s working on a version of its popular BlackBerry Messaging service (BBM) for enterprises.
The eBBM suite is essentially a more secure version of BBM with additional features, the company said. While some companies already use standard BBM, the eBBM suite is creating apps for regulated industries’ requirements, focusing on those that need more security.
“BBM Protected will be the first solution offered in the new eBBM Suite, bringing regulated industries the most secure and reliable real-time mobile messaging in the industry,” the company said. “BBM Protected will provide an unrivalled level of trust in enterprise messaging, with end-to-end encryption of messages that uses symmetric encryption keys for BBM messages and best-in-class technology for public-private signing and encryption key pairs.”
It will launch this summer. BlackBerry hasn’t yet revealed pricing, but said there would be a monthly per-user fee.
BlackBerry Enterprise Server
The company also revealed the next version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server, BES12, will arrive by the end of this year.
It will be backwards compatible with previous versions of the BlackBerry OS, feature support for more platforms – including Windows Phone 8 – and offer more extensive support for the cloud. It will also follow a new pricing structure.
John Sims, president of Global Enterprise Solutions at BlackBerry, said the firm was ensuring that its “more than 80,000 existing BES customers can seamlessly migrate forward”.