BlackBerry gets its second wind

  • AFP
  • Updated: Apr 01, 2015 11:29 IST

After almost disappearing in 2013, BlackBerry is back on track this year, thanks in large part to its enterprise software services. But the brand also strives to return to its former glory by releasing new phones, including the brand new Leap.

Once the leading name in mobile devices for business, BlackBerry took a nosedive as its signature keyboard smartphones were outpaced by Android and iOS touchscreen devices, with their abundant apps offerings. The brand has also missed out entirely on the tablet trend.

For the first time in ages, however, in the fiscal quarter ended February 2015, the Canadian firm made a profit, though not due to device sales, which continued to decline. Between December and February, BlackBerry sold a mere 1.6 million smartphones at an average price of $211. In what is perhaps a sign of the times, BlackBerry, forced to diversify, has found its highest returns in the software segment, and specifically in the market for enterprise security solutions.

The first BlackBerry phone (5810), launched in 2002 by Canadian manufacturer RIM, had attracted over 25 million users worldwide by 2008, at the height of its popularity. A few months later, the world learned that even Barack Obama was a BlackBerry fan, with no plans of giving up his device once in the Oval Office. But the success of the iPhone and other touchscreen smartphones would soon be the brand's undoing. In 2013, in an effort to turn the tide, RIM changed its name to BlackBerry and launched its first touchscreen keyboard device, the Z10, along with a new platform. The sales results did not live up to the hype.

The brand's latest phones, all of which are 4G-ready, include the Passport, which breaks with industry style codes through its square 4.5-inch screen above a traditional keyboard; the Classic, a 3.5-inch device more in line with the manufacturer's earlier models; and the brand new Leap, due to launch in April, currently in pre-order.

Entirely touchscreen-based, somewhat along the lines of the Z10, the new 5-inch smartphone has a battery life of up to 25 hours and will sell for less than $300.
Even at its darkest hour, BlackBerry can count on the help of famous brand ambassadors including Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.

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