Blackberry CEO looks to ditch touchscreens in favour of physical keyboards in future smartphone products

by Andrew Roach on January 8, 2014

It’s fair to say that Blackberry’s most recent devices have certainly flopped in the past 12 months with the Z10 and the Q10 having cost the company billions in terms of development and writedowns as they tried to keep up with the rapidly developing mobile market.

However, the company’s new CEO John Chen has revealed that he is planning to move away from predominantly touchscreen phones and bring back the physical keyboard that helped propel the company to success all those years ago.

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show, Chen felt that this switch would help the company get back on its feet and reconnect with the audience that it has seemingly lost over the past few years.

Indeed, the QWERTY keypad has always been a key signature of Blackberry phones but was surprisingly left off the doomed Z10 smartphone when it was launched in January last year as part of a whole new direction for the firm.

What seems immediately clear in Chen’s comments is that he believes that the only way to save the company from complete failure is to go back to what made the firm successful rather than continually trying to keep with the latest changes.

Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg, the CEO revealed that keypads would “predominantly” be included on future models but stated that this was not a bad thing. This was emphasised in some of his remarks where he stated: “I personally love the keyboards.”

The move isn’t too surprising as Blackberry shifts their focus away from the consumer market and towards the corporate and government world where the company has always remained an industry leader over the past decade.

After all, the keypads have remained popular in these worlds as it makes writing and sending emails a lot easier than it would on a touchscreen phone.

With the keypad now taking centre-stage on future Blackberry phones, the company are looking to protect their main asset in any way possible including launching legal cases to protect their patents such as the one filed against iPhone accessory Typo earlier this week.

After these latest comments, it seems that John Chen has a clear plan for Blackberry and is hoping that their more traditional and well-loved features such as the QWERTY keypad will help save the company from going under within the near future.

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