BlackBerry to launch two mid-range Android phones

BlackBerry chief executive John Chen announced on Monday that the company will launch two mid-range Android handsets in 2016; one with a physical keyboard and the other with a full touch-screen, but declined to say when the new devices would go on sale.

Speaking to UAE news website the National, Chen admitted that the company’s recent flagship Android device, the BlackBerry Priv, “was too high-end a product”, with its target market of enterprise customers put off by the handset’s $700 price tag.

“The fact that we came out with a high end phone (as our first Android device) was probably not as wise as it should have been,” Chen said during a visit to Abu Dhabi.

“A lot of enterprise customers have said to us, ‘I want to buy your phone but $700 is a little too steep for me. I’m more interested in a $400 device’,” Chen explained.

BlackBerry last week announced it had sold just 600,000 handsets during the three months to the end of March, well below analyst forecasts of 850,000.

However, last week’s disappointing sales have revived speculation that BlackBerry may finally decide to call time on its handset division and focus exclusively on its more profitable software services division, which it expects to grow by 30 percent in the coming 12 months.

Chen insisted that BlackBerry’s secure Android handset proposition was one that appealed particularly to enterprise consumers.

“We’re the only people who really secure Android, taking the security features of BlackBerry that everyone knows us for and make it more reachable for the market,” he underlined.

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