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“The focus is going to be very keyboard centric,” BlackBerry CEO John Chen told Reuters in a new interview published today. For over a year now, BlackBerry has been trying to push consumers smartphones that have looked and felt more like an Apple iPhone or your average Android device than a traditional BlackBerry devices of yore. Devices like the BlackBerry Z10, the Z30, and the upcoming Z3 are all flat, candy bar style phones with nothing but big touch screens, forcing users to instead tap away on a screen to get work done. It doesn’t help that the company’s more “traditional” device, the BlackBerry Q10 with its physical keyboard, is chained down by BlackBerry 10, an operating system that forces users to interact with the devices’ small touch screens more often than not.

Under John Chen’s leadership, that’s going to change.

According to Reuters, BlackBerry has “at least three different next-generation handsets” in development, all of which are going to focus on returning BlackBerry back to their roots with a heavy emphasis on what BlackBerry is calling the “classic” model – devices with a keyboard, trackpad, and BlackBerry’s traditional “Menu,” “Back,” “Send,” and “End” keys. BlackBerry’s first go at returning to this concept will be the upcoming BlackBerry Q20, an updated version of the BlackBerry Q10.

But the question that I can’t shake is – is it enough? We now know that BlackBerry is working on an updated version of BlackBerry 10, dubbed BlackBerry 10.3, and a recently leaked beta build of the operating system shows software with an updated, more modern design, but one with all the same flaws as BlackBerry 10. The company really needs to step up its game in a big way if this is the direction they’re looking to take if they want to make it, and even then, I can’t help but think that this might not be enough. It’s true that BlackBerry’s bread and butter has always been the business professional market, but with businesses (and even the President) switching from BlackBerry to competitor’s platforms in mad droves, it may be a case of too little, too late.

One piece of good news, however, is that BlackBerry is looking “very seriously” at bringing BlackBerry Messenger to the desktop. The move would make sense as the company has not long ago released native BlackBerry Messenger applications for both iOS and Android. However, this too may be a little late – Apple has seen huge success with its similar messaging protocol, iMessage, and goodness knows competitor WhatsApp has seen nothing but success.

At the end of the day, it’s very clear that BlackBerry under John Chen is in nearly the same exact position as it was in 2013 – dying. You can’t blame John Chen for wanting to try something different, especially when “different” means going back to something that worked extremely well for them in the past. But the problem is, this isn’t 2006 anymore. The iPhone exists – Android devices dominate – and physical keyboards might just not be enough anymore. Your move, BlackBerry.


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