BlackBerry CEO Talks ‘Classic’ Release, Strategy

By Features FOXBusiness

BlackBerry (BBRY) CEO John Chen unveiled the company’s new smartphone at an event at Cipriani restaurant in Manhattan on Wednesday. The BlackBerry Classic, reminiscent of traditional BlackBerry devices, is designed to appeal to the company's early adopters, with updated functionality.

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In a conversation with FOX Business, Chen talked about the new phone as well as his outlook for the company.

“The interface is the BlackBerry you fell in love with,” Chen said of the new Classic, but the rest of the device is “brand new.”

“We restored the keyboard and the navigations and the we added to the size of the screen," Chen  said of the design. The device also contains a touch-screen, for users who have adjusted to rival Apple's (AAPL) iPhone-like feature.

Chen said that the decision to release the Classic was rooted in the positive feedback they received about the BlackBerry keyboard.

“We have some really diehard fans out there because it’s a very productive machine," he said, adding,“This is the only phone you can type on without looking at it."

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The event presentation began with a video montage of celebrity endorsements, unpaid by BlackBerry, as Chen was eager to point out. On stage, business leaders also provided endorsements.

Once the leader in smartphones, BlackBerry has struggled to remain competitive in the consumer market, due to the growing popularity of iPhones and Android (GOOGL) devices.

The company has opted to focus on enterprise, as government and other businesses continue to use the BlackBerry, largely due to its strong reputation for security.

Before Chen took over BlackBerry in November 2013, there was talk that the company would be taken private. Instead the company has opted to remain publicly traded, with shares rising about 28% since Chen took the helm.

When FOX Business asked if he was still committed to keeping BlackBerry public, Chen answered simply, “yes.”

The BlackBerry Classic device retails for $449 and will be shipped Dec. 30 for those who order it online.

BlackBerry shares closed Wednesday at $9.98.

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