A top row of navigation keys! A trackpad! The BlackBerry is back, baby, with the BlackBerry Classic!
Well, that’s how BlackBerry hopes you’ll react, anyway, with the announcement of the BlackBerry Classic on the company’s website on Tuesday. Chief executive John Chen promised the “things you remember about BlackBerry that made you better are better than ever with BlackBerry Classic”.
“Innovation is a word that gets used too often and carelessly. Innovation is not about blowing up what works to make something new – it’s about taking what works and making it better,” Chen wrote in a blog post. “In that sense, BlackBerry Classic represents the kind of innovation BlackBerry – and you – strive toward every day.”
And while Chen didn’t reveal what those features would be, exactly, he gave some hints: the trackpad, the navigation screen, a larger, sharper screen, and “all the best productivity and collaboration features on any mobile device, including the BlackBerry Hub and our all-new BlackBerry Blend.”
Users can sign up to hear more about the new Classic on a dedicated site, which also promises “Navigation buttons that do more than ‘go home’,” a physical keyboard “with no rival,” and a central repository for all of your messages. The site also has a partial image of the new phone.
The Bold, of course, arguably marked the beginning of the gradual decline of the BlackBerry—not so much because of any great deficiencies of the phone, but because of the rise of the iPhone and its associated app strore. Google’s Android soon followed, and developers latched on to the new, lucrative opportunities. As of July 2014, BlackBerry had only 2.4 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, in fourth place behind Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
With nothing to lose, Chen and BlackBerry have rolled out a new release of the BlackBerry OS, as well as a partnership to bring many popular Android applications to the BlackBerry platform. BlackBerry recently launched the Passport, a square phone that the company is pitching at professionals.
Could you see yourself buying a BlackBerry again? Would a touchpad be the answer to those who prefer a large phone but prefer to use it with one hand? Let us know in the comments.
Why this matters: Having failed to attract new converts, BlackBerry is hoping to reinvigorate whatever fan base BlackBerry still has. At one time, it owned the smartphone market. So a combination of nostalgia and innovation is an obvious next step.