BlackBerry’s latest phone, the Classic, has the hardy physical keyboard consumers may remember from the company’s better days. Also a trackpad and, below the touchscreen, the iconic call and hang-up buttons that evoke Bell’s original invention.
Wednesday’s launch revealed a set of features the device’s earliest users will find familiar. Chief Executive John Chen, who presided over the reveal in New York, is sharply changing the touchscreen-only course set by previous helmsman Thorsten Heins. Heins himself was reacting, or overreacting, to the swath that Apple (AAPL) and the Androids have cut through the smartphone market, of which the Canadian company now has less than 1 percent.
Chen is trying to appeal to the power users of old (“Don’t mess around with this thing,” he said one told him), even as he works to make BlackBerry a software company with corporate and government clients who place a premium on security, as Bloomberg noted in its story on the launch. The Bloomberg piece also recalled an October blog post from Chen in which he reflected that “it’s tempting, in a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market, to change for the sake of change—to mimic what’s trendy.”
No danger here.
The Classic sells for $449 in the U.S. and C$499 ($429) in Canada.