BlackBerry focusing on physical keyboards for future smartphones

BlackBerry is taking it back to the old school as it looks to focus on keyboard-clad devices in order to attempt to revive its fortunes.

Recently appointed CEO John Chen told Bloomberg that the firm will direct its strategy away from touch screen devices and bring phones to the market that “predominantly” sport physical keyboards.

“I personally love the keyboards,” Chen added, during an interview at CES 2014 in Las Vegas.

Much of its success came from devices that carried physical keyboards and it was a key part of what made it such a renowned firm in the corporate and government sectors that it is refocusing its efforts on.

BlackBerry recently signed a five-year deal with Foxconn Technology Group that will see it outsource manufacturing and design on several devices with it forming a part of the company’s strategy to expand into new territories.

“Foxconn can be a really great partner, not only to eliminate my inventory risk, but also their ability to penetrate various different markets, call it the developing and emerging markets,” Chen added.

Although the first Foxconn device is expected to have a touch-screen, Chen stated that the physical keyboards would be focused on in future phones regardless of the market being targeted.

Touch-screen smartphones were very much the preserve of former CEO Thorsten Heins, who had attempted to slip the company into that segment with devices such as the Q10 and Z10, which BlackBerry eventually admitted had been disastrous.

Heins departed after a $4.7 billion [£2.95 billion] takeover bid from its largest shareholder Fairfax Financial Holdings had failed due to a lack of available funds. It brought the curtain down on a five-year period that had seen its share price plummet 94 per cent from a high of $145 [£90] back in 2008.