BlackBerry used to be a big deal. Used to be, back before touchscreens really kicked off and the company failed adapt to what consumers were actually going to buy. In the years since BlackBerry has tried to restore itself as a smartphone king, but mostly failed. Instead it licensed out its brand and resorted to patent trolling. Now CEO John Chen has come out and said someone else should make a BlackBerry-style phone. Emphasis on "someone else", because the company won't be doing that itself.
This came from the latest episode of Recode Decode (via Recode), with Chen expressing his interest in seeing a "retro" revival of the BlackBerry-style handset:
“I would never say never. For the foreseeable future, I think our strategy works really well. But I think there might be a need in this world for a phone that is very simple and just focused on secure email, secure texts and a basic browser.
“I think I should find a hardware partner to do this.
You remember the 9900, the Bold? It fits right in your palm. I think somebody should make that.”
Note that he said hardware partner, which implies BlackBerry itself would be involved somewhere along the way. Given how the company sued over Ryan Seacrest's Typo keyboard case for the iPhone, there's no reason why the company wouldn't go after someone trying to emulate the BlackBerry style without permission.
When asked why people would opt for a BlackBerry over a more popular brand, Chen's response was "mobile security". He claims it's "nightmarish" for companies to secure their employees' data elsewhere. That's why he envisions a device that lets you call, text, and access emails, that also lets you recover or wipe data easily. I don't know about you, but Android and iPhone devices both offer that service through their remote location services. Or at least they do if the phone connects to the internet, but that's hardly something BlackBerry could improve upon.
But Chen says that the phone itself would be $150-$199, which is a lot cheaper than an iPhone or half-decent Android. Which makes a lot more sense if the security is built in out of the box. Swapping functionality for extreme security seems like a fair trade-off, and it seems Chen has really thought this through. That said, it doesn't explain why BlackBerry isn't doing this already. Even Theresa May has an iPhone now. [Recode]