BlackBerry teases new device plans as turnaround takes shape

Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:52am EDT
 
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Even as BlackBerry pivots to focus more on software and services, the company that gained fame for its smartphones is not giving up on its handset business, two senior executives said.

After recording a gross profit from its weakened handset operation and with roughly 50 million people globally still using its older-generation BlackBerry phones, there is potential in that business, the executives said.

Their remarks came during a frenetic week when BlackBerry reported a much smaller-than-expected loss and launched its square-screened Passport device.

Ron Louks, who heads BlackBerry's devices arm, said now that the company had pared losses, it could afford to take some risks and look at introducing at least one unconventional device each year.

"When it comes to design and being a little bit disruptive, we want that 'wow' factor," Louks said. "Not all of the products will have it, but we definitely have opportunities."

BlackBerry already has another unconventional device in the works, he said, adding that it has already received some positive feedback from carriers on it.

Passport reviews have been mixed. While the device has won praise for its battery life, wide screen and touch-sensitive keyboard, it has been criticized for, among other things, being difficult to operate with one hand.

Louks hinted that BlackBerry was working on a prototype that would be easier to use with a single hand.   Continued...