QWERTY smartphone with trackpad officially launched

BlackBerry Limited has launched its much-awaited smartphone with QWERTY keypad and trackpad.

BlackBerry Ltd launched its much-anticipated Classic device on Wednesday, December 17, 2014, a smartphone it hopes will help it win back market share and woo those still using older versions of its physical keyboard devices.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based mobile technology company, said the new device which bears a striking similarity to its once-bestselling Bold and Curve handsets, boasts a larger screen, longer battery life, expanded app library with access to offerings from Amazon.com Inc's Android App store, as well as a browser three times faster than the one on its legacy devices.

Chief Executive Officer, John Chen said in a statement: "BlackBerry Classic is the powerful communications tool that many BlackBerry Bold and Curve users have been waiting for."

He also noted that the device brings back the command bar functionalities that helped make its legacy devices easy to navigate. Chen is in some ways taking the company back to its roots, re-emphasizing the physical keyboard with the recent launch of the Passport and the Classic models, rather than trying to compete directly against the touchscreen handsets of dominant rivals like Samsung and Apple.

Chen, who became CEO a year ago, is also pivoting BlackBerry to earn more revenue from software, as system access fees from those using its legacy devices wind down.

Analysts have noted a successful launch of the Classic would accelerate service revenue erosion because the new devices do not generate system access fees. But a jump in hardware revenue from Classic and Passport sales would give BlackBerry time to scale up its software business in 2015.

"We believe that the company's current strategy of staying true to its core user base of business users - in industries such as healthcare, banking and insurance - rather than chasing the mainstream could help to transform the handset division into a stable business," said research firm Trefis in a recent note to clients.

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