Once known as the market leader of smartphones (before it was bumped off by Apple and Android), BlackBerry is getting ready to reclaim its position.
The company plans to unveil a broader array of new smartphones this year, catering to different markets around the world. In the current market where Apple and Samsung are preparing to release new, revolutionary models later this year, the company needs to respond with something more than just a pair of phones.
Blackberry’s Chief Executive Thorsten Heins seemed to concur with this in his latest interview with the Canadian press, where he said, “In order to stay relevant, we have to build a portfolio.”
The new strategy will involve an all-inclusive product line that will consist of smartphones for high end users, as well as variations that sell at mid- and “entry-level” prices.
Already, the blackberry Z10, a smartphone that caters to the high end users is already on the market and doing quite well.
Another new phone using the BlackBerry 10 operating system, with a lower price than the Z10 and Q10, is to be released sometime this year.
The rollout of the new wave of smartphones will begin sometime between September and November with a “mid-tier” priced model of both the touchscreen and keypad, or QWERTY, phones. The new phone is designed with markets like India and Indonesia in mind. It’s an intricate shift that involves gradually encouraging its loyal users in emerging markets to make the switch to its new operating system.
Heins vision of the ideal BlackBerry lineup would be a touchscreen and keypad version for each of its three product tiers, which would put six BlackBerry phones on the market at one time. But if one of the lower-priced phones fails to catch on with customers, it’ll be scrapped.
“Each and every segment has to make money,” he said. “There is no cross-subsidy from one segment to another, and if we don’t make money, we don’t do it.”
Turning a profit at BlackBerry has been a priority for Heins, who began a massive cost-cutting initiative last year that involved laying off about 5,000 employees in a plan to save $1 billion. He achieved that goal about three months ahead of the company’s own schedule.
As BlackBerry rolls out its new phones, the company is working behind the scenes to create additional services tied to its popular BlackBerry Messenger and other phone features that could boost revenues.
“The question is how quickly can we really come up with services that we can monetize, and what is this transition curve going to financially look like,” Heins said.
“The intent of BlackBerry is not to stay in the service business, the intent is to grow our services business.”