BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen, who’s a bit of a straight-talker with press rather than relying on PR spin, has pretty much confirmed that the company will be making two new Android-based phones inside 2016, and what’s more, they’ll both be mid-rangers, he said. Speaking in an interview with The National, Chen said that one handset will be a pure touchscreen model, while the other will feature a physical QWERTY keyboard, and he expects them both to sit in the $300-$400 price bracket.
The shift from premium to mid-range in the current market appears to be quite a considered one, with Chen himself observing that BlackBerry may have hampered its own sales with the Priv by positioning it so highly – since launch the firm has issued multiple price cuts for the SIM-free edition of the handset. The $700 launch price, it seems, was not attractive to consumers or BlackBerry’s traditional enterprise demographic.
“We released our Android device just about when the high-end phone market went soft, so that was principally the reason behind the lukewarm response. However, the execution could have been better because I tried to sell these phones through carriers as retail shops,” Chen told ET in an interview.
Chen had previously hinted that BlackBerry was considering further Android-based phones inside 2016, but this is the first true confirmation that project devices have been greenlit. There are currently no further details about design or features, however. The move is interesting, however, as in previous discussions Chen had indicated that if the Priv did not move in sufficient numbers we would see a shut-down of the firm’s devices development.
The admissions over the Priv’s “overpriced” placement, however, seems to be as much an admission that it didn’t sell in the desired numbers, so to see another crack at the whip is a little surprising. But if the market is to blame, as Chen states, then it will certainly be interesting to see how consumers reac to a cheaper, more mainstream Android BlackBerry phone in 2016.