BlackBerry’s smartphones haven’t done great in the recent past. Its own platform has been struggling for traction as big ticket developers have been abandoning it while its first Android smartphone – the Priv – hasn’t also done too well. So, naturally there have been some whispers, that BlackBerry may stop making smartphones. On his first trip to India, BlackBerry CEO John Chen has squashed all rumours regarding its exit from the hardware space and said that it will launch a phone between Rs 20,000-Rs 26,000.
“You would probably see more on the mid-price range, which is usually around $300-400. I doubt that BlackBerry can compete on the low end in this market,” said Chen in an interview with the Economic Times.
Chen admitted that the Priv didn’t do well because it was a standalone high-end smartphone without a family of devices backing it up.
“Currently, we just talk about Priv. It’s expensive, because it has no family. Normally, companies release more than one device. But we need to ensure that we don’t build too many phones, while extending our distribution channel,” he said.
The Blackberry CEO also said that the timing of launching the Priv wasn’t ideal. He believed that the high-end market for Android smartphones has gone soft, though he believed that the execution could have been better on his company’s part.
“Execution could have been better because I tried to sell these phones through carriers as retail shops. Carriers are important but I need to be more directly available to customers by myself or through the partners,” admitted Chen.
Chen also remained adamant that BlackBerry 10 isn’t dead as a platform. He admitted that it wasn’t a successful because it didn’t have app support but it remained the most secure platform and governments still used it.
“BB10 OS is definitely not dead. The reason is even if I want to make it dead, I can’t because we have a lot of key government customers around the world that rely on it and will continue to buy it,” said Chen.
In fact, Chen says because BB10 lacked application support Blackberry decided to go with Android to create a product that was more consumer centric.
Besides this, Chen said that BlackBerry would be scaling up its investments in India after wildly scaling them back. He believes India is a going to be big market for the SME model.
Of late, there have been rumours about Blackberry launching three smartphones this year. There codenames are Vienna, Hamburg and Rome.