BlackBerry cancels phone launches and 2014 conference

By Graeme Burton
25 Dec 2013 View Comments
BlackBerry Z30 smartphone

Battered BlackBerry has cancelled two smartphones that it was planning to launch in the new year and its BlackBerry Live 2014 conference as a result of a shift in strategy by new CEO John Chen.

The two cancelled smart phones, according to reports, were low-end devices intended for emerging markets. However, their utility may have been superceded by the company's recent decision to outsource production of devices intended for emerging markets to Foxconn, the giant manufacturing company owned by Hon Hai Precision, which also makes Apple iPhones.

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The cancellation of the two products, code-named Café and Kopi according to the Wall Street Journal, was due to poor sales of the company's products during 2013, when the belated launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system flopped disastrously.

The only BlackBerry 10 device to prove popular in the market has been the keyboarded Q10. As a result, the overwhelming majority of BlackBerry devices sold today are still running the old BlackBerry 7 operating system - BlackBerry 7 outselling BlackBerry by a ratio of about three to one, in the latest quarter.

In particular, BlackBerry has just under $1bn of Z10 devices piled up in warehouses, which put many operators off of taking stock of the more polished BlackBerry Z30

Instead of the two cancelled smartphones, BlackBerry will instead launch the first of the Foxconn partnership phones, code-named Jakarta, in April 2014.

At the same time, the company has also ditched its BlackBerry Live 2014 conference in preference to a series of smaller and more targeted events that will take place over the next year instead.

The BlackBerry Live event had run since 2002, when it was known as the Wireless Enterprise Symposium.

In a blog posting explaining the decision, the company said: "We're planning to continue with an engaging line-up of smaller, targeted events taking place all around the world over the next 12 months. These events are designed with a greater focus on the specific business, developer, and partner audiences, and will allow you to get the most out of your attendance."

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