BlackBerry is returning to its roots with a new phone that features a traditional keyboard at a time when rival Apple and Android phones – and most smartphone customers – have embraced touch screens.
With the Classic, BlackBerry is courting its core customer, the business user.
The physical keyboard is something traditional BlackBerry users prefer because they find it easier than touch screens to type with.
“While we’ve introduced a full-sized BlackBerry keyboard on the Classic, we’ve also increased the screen size by 60 percent compared to the Bold 9900,” said Jeff Gadway, BlackBerry Director of Product Marketing, at the Classic launch event in New York on Wednesday.
Pioneered in 1999 with the launch of the RIM 950, BlackBerry changed work culture by allowing on-the-go business people to access email wirelessly.
Then came a new generation of competing smartphones, and suddenly the BlackBerry looked well off the pace.
Apple showed that phones can handle much more than email and phone calls and BlackBerry was late in overhauling its operating system to compete.
“I think it’s a company in turnaround. I think this is a necessary release to round out the portfolio as part of the turnaround,” said Bob Egan, the CEO of Sepharim Group, a mobile industry research firm.
BlackBerry now holds a small fraction of the US smartphone market after commanding a nearly 50 percent share as recently as 2009.

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