You might expect a pre-product-release tease from
) to drop with a very soft thud but, at least for now, investors
and technology enthusiasts are again paying attention to the
once-mighty Canadian mobile phone maker.
Everybody loves a comeback story, and if this isn't one yet, it at
least looks like it could turn into one down the road.
Anywhere looks like up from here. BlackBerry's global market share
had dropped to a pitiful 1.9% by the end of 2013, and has probably
since slid below 1%.
But the company's latest quarterly results, released Thursday, were
a upside surprise. It even made a tiny profit of about $23 million,
compared to a $423 million loss in the prior quarter. Operating
expenses were down 40% from the same period a year earlier. CEO
John Chen has said he expects BlackBerry to return to profitability
sometime next year.
On the job only since last November, Chen's strategy has been to
focus on corporate and government clients, who once preferred
BlackBerry because of the superior security of its messaging
software and the reliability of its network.
That said, BlackBerry's latest announcements reach out to other
First, about that pre-release tease: Two new models will be
officially announced in September. Nobody can accuse BlackBerry of
being a copycat. Both will have a touchscreen but also will be
equipped with a physical keyboard.
The BlackBerry Classic presumably is aimed at a consumer audience
since, according to
a report in TechCrunch
, the company is in talks with rap star Drake to promote the
device. Drake reportedly is an actual BlackBerry user, not to
mention a Canadian.
The BlackBerry Passport is a giant folding phablet, designed for
the enterprise market, or at least for users with some serious
texting to do.
Meanwhile, the company is rolling out an affordable device for
consumers in emerging markets.
The model was introduced initially in Indonesia, a huge market with
a lingering loyalty to the BlackBerry name. This week, it will be
introduced in India, where,
according to a reviewer
, it has the potential to bring BlackBerry back to the forefront.
In addition, the company announced last week that all of its
devices will soon have access to the
) AppStore, a quick fix for the serious shortage of mobile apps
available to BlackBerry users. The agreement means another 240,000
new choices added to its own 130,000.
(If that sounds like plenty of apps, keep in mind that the
) Store and
) Play carry a million each.)
Under the radar, BlackBerry has other strengths that have little to
do with device sales. Such as BBM, the BlackBerry Messenger
chat service that is available across platforms, and that has an
estimated 85 million active monthly users. Again capitalizing on
its reputation for better security, the company is about to
introduce an expanded and ultra-secure version for business users,
In the connected car market, its QNX12 has turned into a strong
competitor. Earlier this year, it won an agreement with
) at the expense of
(MSFT), the automaker's previous provider of an on-board
The company also is making all the right noises about its potential
as a player in cloud services and as a platform for the "Internet
of Things," to name two of the biggest game-changing trends that
have emerged since the days when BlackBerry ruled.
But that's further down the road. For now, BlackBerry has to prove
that it can keep moving in the right direction for more than one
The stock rose nearly 7% on Friday, closing the week at $10.51.