BlackBerry is reportedly planning to release two new Android smartphones this year, squashing rumours of a possible exit from the hardware space.
Speaking to Abu Dhabi’s The National, CEO John Chen admitted the company’s first Android smartphone, BlackBerry Priv, which launched at the end of last year, “was too high-end a product”, with just 600,000 handsets sold during the first three months to the end of March.
Chen revealed the company would now launch two mid-range handsets, one equipped with a physical keyboard and one with a full touchscreen, although he did not commit to a timeframe.
“The fact that we came out with a high end phone as our first Android device was probably not as wise as it should have been,” said Chen. “A lot of enterprise customers have said to us: ‘I want to buy your phone, but $700 is a little too steep for me. I’m more interested in a $400 device’.”
Following disappointing sales figures for Priv, speculation was rife that the company could call time on its handset division and focus on its profitable software services business.
Chen however remains defiant, confirming the company would continue to release updates for BB10, as he talked up BlackBerry’s security proposition on Android smartphones.
“We’re the only people who really secure Android, taking the security features of BlackBerry that everyone knows us for and make it more reachable for the market,” he said.
The two planned BlackBerry phones, code-named the Rome and the Hamburg, reported The Verge, are likely to be priced at up to $500 off contract.