BlackBerry made several announcements at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014, including that it’s working on a new flagship smartphone, the BlackBerry Q20.
The Q20 will bring back the classic Menu, Back, Send and End buttons to the dedicated QWERTY keyboard, include an integrated trackpad and pair these with a 3.5-inch touch-screen—the largest display yet on a QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry.
“In my first 90 days on the job, I consistently heard from our ardent BlackBerry customers that the hard buttons and trackpad are an essential part of the BlackBerry QWERTY experience that made their BlackBerry smartphone their go-to productivity tool,” BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in a Feb. 25 statement. “I want these customers to know that we heard them, and this new smartphone will be for them.”
BlackBerry added that the Q20 will also feature excellent battery life, the BlackBerry Hub, BlackBerry’s patented keyboard design (that’s surely a nod at its lawsuit against Ryan Seacrest’s Typo Mobile Keyboard), and be reliable, durable and “crafted from premium materials.”
It will also come with new enhancements to the BlackBerry 10 platform and arrive during the second half of the year.
Foxconn, with which BlackBerry announced a major agreement in December, will build the Q20, Chen said, according to a Feb. 24 report from Re/code, adding that BlackBerry is working on a few other high-end devices that it’s currently unable to show off.
BlackBerry, “unveiling” the Q20, didn’t share a photo or even wave around a pulled-from-the-pocket device.
However, Chen and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gow, on a stage together at MWC, each held up the first device to come from their companies’ new partnership. The touch-focused, 3G-enabled smartphone, code-named Jakarta, will go on sale in Indonesia in April, for less than $200, unsubsidized.
BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES)
BlackBerry also introduced BES12, the newest generation of its BlackBerry Enterprise Service. BES12 will be “application-enabled” and backward-compatible, unifying BES10 and BES5 onto one platform.
The BES12 platform will focus on five core capabilities: backward compatibility and future-proofing; supporting multi-platform solutions (it will soon support Windows Phone 8, in addition to Android and iOS); advanced service management, with automated problem resolution; support for all-cloud (public or private) or hybrid solutions; and offering tools and integration points to easily develop and deploy enterprise apps to all supported platforms.
BlackBerry also announced an EZ Pass Program, designed to help customers more easily move from BES or other mobile device management platforms to BES10. Other enticements are a new pricing structure and a limited-time offer to migrate customers to BES10 for free.
Still, additional news out of MWC was the introduction of the eBBM Suite, a group of products and services that work with BES10 and BlackBerry devices to provide “enterprise-class mobile messaging.” The first solution in the suite will be BBM Protected, a secure, real-time mobile messaging solution for regulated industries.
Government, finance and health care are key industries for BlackBerry, which has announced plans to build an “innovation center” in Washington, D.C., as well as a major sales office in New York City, near Wall Street.
Chen, speaking at MWC, said a big part of BlackBerry’s downfall was spreading itself too thin and subsequently taking its focus off of its enterprise customers, according to the Re/code report.
“That’s not going to be [the case] anymore,” said Chen.