BlackBerry CEO pens open letter ahead of Classic launch

Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:19pm EDT
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TORONTO Oct 29 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd Chief Executive John Chen penned an open letter to current and former BlackBerry users on Wednesday in a push to create some buzz for the company's new BlackBerry Classic device, which is set to debut later this year.

The Classic, which bears striking similarities to the company's once wildly popular Bold smartphone, will come with a complete top row of navigation keys and a trackpad. Those are features that many BlackBerry fans missed when the company rolled out its revamped BlackBerry 10 line of devices last year.

Chen conceded that the company has made some mistakes in the last few years saying: "It's tempting in a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market to change for the sake of change - to mimic what's trendy and match the industry-standard, kitchen-sink approach of trying to be all things to all people."

"When we lose sight of what you want and you need, we lose you," he said, in a letter published on the BlackBerry blog.

The letter from Chen comes two days after reality television star Kim Kardashian created a stir by professing her "love" for BlackBerry devices, and confessing that she owns a cache of Bold devices, at a conference organized by tech news website Re/code in California.

Chen, who stepped in to take the reins at BlackBerry when the company was faltering badly a year ago, has moved rapidly to get BlackBerry back on track, selling some assets, partnering to make its manufacturing and supply chain more efficient, and raising cash via the sale of the company's extensive real estate holdings in Waterloo, Ontario, where it is headquartered.

In September, the company launched an unconventional square-screened smartphone, the BlackBerry Passport. The Classic is set to have a bigger and sharper screen than its predecessor, the Bold, along with a much larger app catalog and a myriad of other features.

"We are committed to earning your business - or earning it back, if that's the case," he said, promising the company would share more details about the Classic in coming weeks.

(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Peter Galloway)