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A passport to success for Blackberry?

Blackberry's new smartphone offering, which reportedly is to launch in September, has a rather unique quality about it.

No, not holographic technology (sadly) – the Passport smartphone is square in shape, and in a mobile market teeming with rectangular models, that's enough to stand out.

Blackberry holds that the new phone's 4.5in screen offers the same viewing space as a rectangular 5in screen, but delivers a better user experience.

Read more: Does anybody really like Amazon's new gimmicky 3D Fire Phone?

Talking to TechNewsWorld, Carl Howe, a research vice president at the Yankee Group, said how the Passport "is different than the 256 varieties of rounded rectangles that make up the smartphone market today."

It's "the kind of device that makes people go 'What the heck is that?' which is what BlackBerry needs," he said. "The last thing BlackBerry wants at this point is a me-too device."

"If the hand feel is good and people start to try out the phone, they may find it solves a lot of the issues other phones have with their rectangular form factors," he proposed.

Read more: A third of financial enterprises to abandon BlackBerry in 2014

The benefit of a square screen, Morgan suggested, is that content can be viewed without having to turn the phone on its side, such is the case with rectangular models. This could apply to video, Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations.

Content "can be displayed in a more consistent manner, and application developers could spend less time worrying about landscape mode design for this device," he continued. Blackberry's Passport "is extending the phablet concept beyond just a large screen as in the Samsung Note devices."

And that content will come from the Amazon Appstore's 240,000 apps.

The question is, will this design be a gimmick or gamechanger? True to its history, Blackberry will aim the Passport at business and government markets, hoping to offer a better experience of work-based applications.

Blackberry's share of the global smartphone market has been steadily slipping to 0.5 per cent in Q1, compared to 2.9 per cent during the equivalent period a year ago.

Blackberry's recapturing of the market will be down to "the people who love QWERTY more than Angry Birds and Candy Crush," Morgan mused.

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