Hardware market 'does remain a focus' says BlackBerry enterprise chief

By Peter Gothard
29 Jul 2014 View Comments

BlackBerry will continue to focus on hardware, despite its ongoing reinvention as a dedicated enterprise mobile security company, the firm's president of enterprise services has told Computing.

Speaking at the company's BlackBerry Security event in New York today, John Sims dismissed rumours that the upcoming BlackBerry Classic and BlackBerry Passport devices may be the company's last.

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"I think [company CEO] John Chen said very clearly in the strategy that the hardware market does remain a focus within BlackBerry," said Sims.

"In the enterprise space, one of the things I always heard from our customers was that they loved their old BlackBerry device with the keyboard. The BlackBerry Bold was the one people talked about - they loved them and had them for a long time - so they were starting to fall apart, they'd had them for so many years."

Sims said he believes professionals such as lawyers are more "verbose", and demand the QWERTY keyboard-equipped phones in order to be more productive.

"So they wanted the best of that device, but they also wanted the best of BlackBerry as an operating system - the ability to have much faster browsing, and access to apps and so on - so that's the BlackBerry classic device, which we've announced," said Sims.

"It's absolutely targeted at the enterprise user as well as the professional consumer. It meets the market demand there, at such a price."

But Sims admitted that the forthcoming BlackBerry Passport "is not going to be a device for everyone", and will instead be aimed at "certain industries and sectors, and roles within companies".

"If you look at the screen real estate we have to work with, or the keyboard," said Sims of the larger, squarer-looking device, "these things will apply in certain markets - perhaps healthcare, financial services - people who access a lot of charts and so on."

"And we can continue to work on devices that will strengthen that position," he said.

BlackBerry's VP of software foundation technologies, Charles Eagan, also weighed in with a hardware plan for the future:

"In terms of our next few years, we certainly have devices targeted for the market that we're not discussing. Passport is the one we're talking about broadly, but we are continuing to innovate and will continue to bring some new devices and features to the enterprise market," Eagan told Computing.

"Right now, we are focusing on getting Passport out."

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