You have to admire BlackBerry’s never-say-die pluck. This week the phone maker announced two new models and says to expect a total of four new BlackBerry phones this year.
There is remarkable in two ways:
First, troubled BlackBerry is throwing out daring, original phone designs at a time when other phone makers work off the same flat glass template1.
BlackBerry may as well experiment2 because…
Second, today BlackBerry accounts for just 0.4 percent of global phone sales. That’s down from 0.6 percent last year. Seven years ago it was the leading smartphone brand3.
The BlackBerry Leap announced this week has a five-inch screen and is all-touch. It’ll sell for about half the price of today’s premium phones. A lower-than-premium screen resolution will help keep the price down. Leap will be the only rectangular big-screen phone running the BlackBerry 10 software.
There’s also a phone with a slide-out keyboard. BlackBerry promises another with both a slide out keyboard and a Samsung Galaxy S6-style curved screen.
BlackBerry’s sales pitch continues to push the extra level of security that it says other phone makers can’t match.
Until now that message has mainly been for companies who see business benefits in keeping data from prying eyes. The latest pitch seems to target people worried about who can get at their private data.
If making and selling phones doesn’t work out, BlackBerry has a Plan B. There’s a wealth of software that it can sell to business users for whatever phones and tablets they use.
Waiting in the wings is the BlackBerry Experience Suite. This is a set of integrated apps that users and companies can buy either piece-by-piece or in bundles. The software runs on Android and iOS. BlackBerry Experience includes tools for communications, encryption and collaboration.
BlackBerry Experience will go on sale later this year. There are three main suites:
- Productivity, mainly about email and document management.
- Communication, real-time collaboration software.
- Security, tools to protect that data.
It’s a sensible strategy for BlackBerry, pull out the parts of its offering that big companies still like and offer it to them in ways that may or may not include BlackBerry hardware.
Elsewhere there’s a cloud version of BlackBerry’s mobile device management software on the horizon.