BlackBerry is courting its core customer, the business user. The physical keyboard is something traditional BlackBerry users prefer because they find it easier than touch screens to type with. The company is also emphasizing battery life and security.
“A lot of people say THE CLASSIC is aiming for loyal customers. And that is true,” CEO John Chen said at the gadget’s launch event, tellingly held in New York City’s
Financial District. But he also invited people who haven’t used a BlackBerry “especially people who are young,” to try the BlackBerry Classic.
Pioneered in 1999 with the launch of the RIM 950, BlackBerry changed the culture by allowing on-the-go business people to access email wirelessly. Then came a new
generation of competing smartphones, and suddenly the BlackBerry looked ancient.
BlackBerry now holds a small fraction of the U.S. smartphone market after commanding a nearly 50 percent share as recently as 2009.
The BlackBerry Classic is now on sale starting Wednesday for $449 in the U.S. and 499 Canadian dollars in Canada through Amazon.com and BlackBerry.com. It will come
later to AT&T and Verizon.
BlackBerry has been expanding its efforts to sell mobile-security software on its rivals’ smartphones and tablets to help counter the waning popularity of its own
And on the hardware side, BlackBerry partnered with Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles products in vast factories in China.
Foxconn, known for its manufacturing contract work on Apple’s iPhones and iPads, jointly designs and manufactures most BlackBerry devices and manages inventory of the
devices in an agreement that offloads much of BlackBerry’s manufacturing costs and the Classic for BlackBerry is no exeption.