The launch of Blackberry’s new device, the Passport has been met with some mixed reviews. Blackberry hopes that the development will catapult the company towards profits.
The smartphone is called the Passport, as its width is the same as that of a passport. The phone has a large square touch-screen, with the full qwerty keyboard, which once made it famous placed underneath the screen. Although some reviewers complain that the shape makes the phone awkward to hold, it offers the best of both worlds to Blackberry’s keyboard-driven customer base.
The Canadian company, which was once Apple’s main rival in the smartphone industry and boasted services such as BIS underwent a slump over the last couple of years, but the company’s stock immediately rose after the new phone’s release. John Chen, the company’s CEO, promised that there will be more hardware and software releases in the future to generate ongoing profits and push the company out of its current state of fighting for survival in the industry. Apple sold 10 million new devices in its first opening weekend for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Chen said that number over sales over a year would be enough to secure a profit for Blackberry.
The suggested retail price for the phone is US$599 and it is already on sale in North America and parts of Europe. The phone will be available in over 30 countries by year end, although it is unclear whether South Africa will be one of those countries.
The phone features the access and control of spreadsheets, medical scans and other documents, as well as the standard features which users have become accustomed to. However, popular apps such as Instagram were not launched with the Passport although they may be made available in the future.
Blackberry users can already purchase apps from Amazon.com, a feature which was previously limited to Android phones and the BES 12 platform which will be released in October will allow companies and government departments to manage Android and Apple-based devices alongside their blackberries.
The new release may be the first indication that Blackberry is rejoining the competitive smartphone market, and may even regain its previous popularity. But if those ambitions fail, they are at least showing the world that they are still in the game.