Technology

Return of the Black(Berry): The classic business phone makes a comeback

Kirsten Robb /

It was the device that led the smartphone revolution – the BlackBerry, a mobile device with the QWERTY keyboard, loved in the early 2000s by business people and celebrities alike. And now it’s making a comeback.

BlackBerry announced this week it will relaunch its BlackBerry Classic, the “no-nonsense smartphone” for users who never got over the easy to use and speedy functionality.

“We listened closely to our customers’ feedback to ensure we are delivering the technologies to power them through their day – and that feedback led directly to the development of BlackBerry Classic,” said John Chen, chief executive of BlackBerry, in a statement.

“BlackBerry Classic is the powerful communications tool that many BlackBerry Bold and Curve users have been waiting for. It’s the secure device that feels familiar in their hands, with the added performance and agility they need to be competitive in today’s busy world,”

The company’s flagship device took the world by storm after it launched in 2003, and maintained its position as one of the major smartphone vendors until 2012.

But BlackBerry fell out of broader favour with consumers after 2007 following the launch of the iPhone.

The US-based mobile giant had tried and largely failed to launch new devices to keep up with changing smartphone demands, losing a massive $US965 million in just one financial quarter alone last year. Its revenues nosedived a massive 45% year-on-year to just $US1.6 billion.

The re-release of its Classic phone could indicate the successful turnaround of the company.

Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi told SmartCompany a certain proportion of the market would always be attracted the BlackBerry functionality.

“Especially heavy mobile users or those with workplaces that rely on fast mobile use and a need to type quickly,” says Fadaghi, who points out professionals such as lawyers are particularly fond of the device.

“It has very much been seen as a business tool,” he says.

Fadaghi says while the demand for BlackBerry’s is still moderate, the device appeals to a niche market and the company is clearly reacting to that.

“The classic design and organisation functionality is still appealing, and they recognise that it is still a suitable product for marketplace,” he says.

The updated model will be three times faster browsing, have 60% more screen space, 50% longer battery life and a greater variety of apps.

BlackBerry Classic is retailing for $US449 ($553) but a launch date in Australia has yet to be announced.

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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