BlackBerry Classic Harks Back to Bold 9900 to Lure Business Loyalists
While the appearance of the Classic harkens back to earlier models, it’s by no means an old design. The 3.5-inch square screen is 60 percent larger than on the Bold. According to BlackBerry’s product and brand marketing head Jeff Gadway, the screen area is about the same as what’s on the iPhone 6 when it's displaying the virtual keyboard displayed. The case, Gadway said, is machined out of a solid block of stainless steel. BlackBerry has also reemphasized its long-held position as a secure communications device, announcing a Secure Productivity Bundle and an Enterprise Communications Bundle. These are being marketed along with the Classic, but are actually available for all of the BlackBerry BBOS10 devices. In addition, some features of the bundles will be available for iOS and Android devices. As has been the case with other recent BlackBerry device announcements, including the Passport, the Classic is shipping with access to the Amazon Appstore as well as BlackBerry World. The Amazon store includes a large number of Android apps, many of which will work in the BlackBerry QNX environment. While specifics weren’t available at the announcement, BlackBerry executives seemed to indicate that the number of apps available for use on BlackBerry devices had grown considerably. In addition, a number of Web applications, such as the Uber web app, will be available as icons in the Amazon store that will connect the device directly to the Uber ride service mobile site. It’s not exactly an app, but it should work like one. Amazon is also providing an Amazon shopping app and an Amazon Fresh app. The BlackBerry World store is also expanding its offerings for enterprise software users.BlackBerry's success also depends on how and where the Classic is available. AT&T and Verizon planning to carry the Classic in the U.S. as are other carriers in Canada and elsewhere around the world. But offering the device and selling the device are different things. The Classic needs to spur demand and the carriers that sell the Classic need to make it available with terms that are at least as friendly as its Android and iOS competition. Whether that happens still remains to be seen.
Of course the obvious question is whether this will work to reverse BlackBerry’s fortunes. Right now the answer to that isn’t clear. A great deal will depend on just how good the BlackBerry Classic is in bringing back the feel of the Bold that loyal users love, while also moving BlackBerry into the more modern world of business-friendly apps.