BlackBerry is entering a new era. It's no secret that the company had a 2013 it would rather forget. Its BlackBerry 10 smartphone launches failed to make an impact on a market saturated with rival devices and, as a result, the company ceded third place in the global marketshare tables to Microsoft and Windows Phone.
However, under the leadership of new CEO John Chen, the Canadian firm plans to come back refreshed and with a new roadmap and philosophy. It has announced two new devices already and told Pocket-lint there will be others later in the year. Of the first two, the Z3 will be strictly for Indonesia initially, but a Qwerty-keyboard toting handset, the Q20, will be a more global concern.
It will reintroduce some of the elements that are more commonly associated with BlackBerry - something that has already excited loyal fans - and raises the question, why did the company choose to stray so far from its core values with the launch of the Z10 as the first device to sport BB10? It's a question that BlackBerry's vice-president of global product management Francois Mahieu has also pondered.
"We all make mistakes. I think to a large degree it’s fair to say that our sales were under our expectations for the last year. That’s no surprise to anybody," he told us during a chat at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
"There’s obviously something that we didn’t get right."
Mahieu doesn't solely attribute BlackBerry's woes to the Z10 launch, however.
"I think there were several elements across the company that could have been better prepared. I wouldn’t pick on one particular area," he said.
"What is key is, there are things that BlackBerry is very good at, and we should really focus on those. I don’t think we should try to imitate anybody else. At the end of the day, ‘BlackBerry’ stands for something and we should communicate that better."
One of the ways the company plans to regain consumer loyalty is to enforce changes to its phones that the customers themselves have requested.
"The message is ‘we hear you’. You told us you love keyboards, you love your BlackBerry. You told us that maybe the Q10 was just a little bit difficult to use. And therefore, we are bringing back that utility belt that is the trademark of BlackBerry," he explained.
"That is effectively some of the hard keys, the trackpad and menu button that make a BlackBerry phone easier to use. And bringing the flow of old BlackBerry OS, where you can easily navigate between emails and going back to your homescreen."
Does this represent a U-turn then?
"It might sound like a U-turn, but it’s not. Customers are saying, ‘Bring back the utility belt, please make the user navigation the way it used to be’ and that’s what we’re doing."
The BlackBerry Z3 will be available in Indonesia from April. The Q20 (or Classic, as it's otherwise known) will be fully unveiled later in the year for a second-half 2014 release.
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