BlackBerry goes full circle with Classic smartphone launch

Humbled former smartphone giant BlackBerry has reverted back to a tried and tested design in a bid to restore some of its shattered smartphone market share. The BlackBerry Classic is positioned as the heir to relatively popular designs such as the Bold 9900.

“We listened closely to our customers’ feedback to ensure we are delivering the technologies to power them through their day – and that feedback led directly to the development of BlackBerry Classic,” said John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry.

“BlackBerry Classic is the powerful communications tool that many BlackBerry Bold and Curve users have been waiting for. It’s the secure device that feels familiar in their hands, with the added performance and agility they need to be competitive in today’s busy world.”

The irony is that BlackBerry had moved away from the ‘classic’ design in a bid to arrest the decline in its smartphone sales following the arrival of the Apple iPhone and Google’s Android. It was assumed that we were now in the 100% touchscreen era and for BlackBerry to survive it needed to join it.

RIM, as it was then known, even acquired the QNX OS to form the foundation of a new BlackBerry platform that would counter these upstarts, but the problem was BlackBerry 10 took so long to come to market that it was already obsolete. It also didn’t solve the problem of developer support that continues to hamper the growth of Windows Phone.

The addition of the Amazon app store to BlackBerry World in the new device is unlikely to be the solution, especially when you consider what how little it has done to encourage people to buy the Fire Phone.

On the flip side there appear to still be lingering demand for both a hard QWERTY keyboard and the kind of security assurance still associated with the BlackBerry brand. So given the lowly position the company now finds itself in, this seems like a logical move. Whether it will yield many sales remains to be seen.

“This device underscores our commitment to helping BlackBerry users be at their most productive and respond to the demands of business from anywhere, at any time,” said Chen. “By bringing back the trusted functionalities, incorporating our latest operating system and building a speedier browser, our users can feel confident they are using the best communications tool out there.”

The BlackBerry Classic is available to buy now direct from BlackBerry for £349 unlocked. No specific operators have been identified as offering the device on the BlackBerry site, although the announcement did reveal global operator support.

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