More reports on: Telecom

BlackBerry to launch two mid-range Android phones this year: CEO John Chen

09 April 2016

After its first Android smartphone Priv, BlackBerry is pushing plans to launch two new Android smartphones.

In an interview with The National, CEO John Chen said that the company planned to launch new Android phones this year, but offered no specific launch date.

The report said Chen had said that one smartphone would sport a full touchscreen and the other would have a QWERTY keyboard. Chen did not offer any specifications of the phones, adding that the phones would be priced around $300 to $400, which translated to roughly Rs20,000 to Rs26,000.

According to commentators, this meant that the company planned to launch new mid-range devices.

He spoke about Priv and how it was a ''too high-end product'' for the enterprise which was the reason it had received a recent price cut. The price was therefore slashed from $699 to $649. Priv was launched in India at Rs 62,990, and was now listed at Rs 57,990 on Amazon.

Blackberry recently announced that it had sold 600,000 handsets in the past three months till March end, which was lower than the 850,000 units projected by analysts.

BlackBerry has a robust plan to reinvent itself in the smartphone business, following slowing demand for its phones in the highly-competitive market. In recent interviews, the company's CEO, John Chen, revealed a new strategy that could help BlackBerry transform its hardware business into a profitable one.

"There is a void at the high-end segment. So I thought the marriage between Android and our strengths such as security, enterprise features, encryption features would be great," Chen told The Hindu during an interview this week. "But though people who use it, see it - they love it, it has not been working out well for us so far. Reason - high pricing."

Chen said India was going to be one of its top 10 markets. The company was hiring people and had signed partners for enterprise mobility to expand its distribution network, which was currently weak despite a strong portfolio of "great products," Chen said.

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