Not too long ago, in the early 2010s, Blackberry was the smartphone brand to own. Blindsiding the market with its surge of popularity, it took advantage of the slow adoption of the iPhone to cement itself as the next best thing to happen to smartphones. Primarily marketed towards business people, it still found popularity with mainstream audiences.
Fast-forward a few years later, and the smartphone market has undergone change after change. With this change, the demand for large touchscreen phones had reached peak levels, and Blackberry was left behind. Coupled with their then-outdated OS and lacking app store, the company couldn’t compete. They had to adapt and evolve.
Blackberry Mobile is now doing just that, by sticking to what it does best.
The best of both worlds
The company has grown to embrace large touchscreen displays, yet, they haven’t forgotten their roots. While every phone nowadays looks like a big black slab of glass, Blackberry has refused to forego their iconic keyboard. Offering a hybrid experience, Blackberry devices offer the best of both worlds: a large display to meet the needs of the modern consumer, and the efficient Blackberry keyboard that will ease typing and in-device navigation.
Mike Al-Mefleh, Blackberry Mobile’s Regional Director, believes this is one of their devices’ unique selling points.
Speaking to AMEinfo, he highlighted the three pillars of their mission: productivity, reliability and security (or privacy).
Their devices provide productivity through several means, such as “providing an intelligent keyboard where users are able to maneuver and accomplish tasks faster, more easily and more accurately.” He mentioned that the keyboard can also be used as a trackpad, which enhances maneuverability.
As for security and privacy, Al-Mefleh is confident in their devices’ safety, noting users’ ability to fully control how their data on the device is handled and stored, putting them in the driver’s seat.
As for reliability, he highlights their devices’ battery life, which lasts over 26 hours per charge –sometimes more, depending on the device. This allows the time-constrained business person to go through their whole day, overtime or not, without having to worry about running out of juice.
Business people and professionals happen to be Blackberry’s main target demographic, which explains the company’s emphasis on productivity.
“Our devices, actually, are business-ready out of the box,” he said.
One size does not fit all
Alain Lejeune, senior vice president at TCL Communication, Blackberry’s parent company, talked about how phones nowadays try to offer a “one size fits all” solution, which he believes is unrealistic. The phone manufacturer’s strategy has been the antithesis to this common belief in the market.
“Basically, what Mr. Lejeune is trying to say is that Blackberry is not for everybody – it’s for people who have specific needs. Part of it is productivity,” Al-Mefleh commented.
He explained how their devices can appear short-handed in the multimedia department, but explained that this area of their smartphones was never their greatest focus.
Their strong points, however, include the aforementioned battery life, as well as their intelligent keyboard and airtight security.
He stated that by adopting the Android OS platform, they had imported with it all of the user-friendly social media features.
The company had given up on their Blackberry OS in 2015. The Blackberry Leap was the last device to run the now-defunct OS. The company has promised to continue its support of their old operating system up till 2019.
In the end, their device is not for everyone, he said. It’s for people “who need their device to get them through their day from a business perspective,” while also providing an ample offering of multimedia, social networking and gaming elements.
Their latest flagship device released in June, the KEY2, is pushing the company’s vision forward.
“With KEY2, we’ve really taken it to the next level in terms of the specs,” he said.
They’ve upped the device’s RAM to 6 Gb, for example, and are giving consumers the option of 64 Gb or 128 Gb of storage (which is standard for the market, but ideal for business use).
Their focus on business and productivity shines through in the device’s “dual” feature, which blends personal and business usage together.
“We have a dual-SIM feature, dual-camera, and dual-apps. We are promoting duality in all aspects. In terms of the dual-apps, you’re able to have two versions of Whatsapp for example, where you have one version or personal use and one for professional use. Dual-Instagram, so you can control what kind of feeds and contacts you have in each one.”
This dual-feature is the ultimate form of Blackberry’s vision, coupled with its attachment to its keyboard.
In a sea of black screens, Blackberry is sticking to its guns and vision, and hoping to stand out. Whether it will succeed, is yet to be seen.