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AKIPRESS.COM - BlackBerry Ltd plans to introduce high-end smartphones that cater to keyboard aficionados in the coming 18 months, in an effort to win back core corporate and government clients who have shunned the company's touch-screen devices, Reuters reported.
Chief Executive John Chen said in an interview that the company's engineers have designed at least three different next-generation handsets that are being “kicked around right now.”
“The focus is going to be very keyboard centric,” said Chen, the former Sybase CEO who took the reins of the Canadian company just over four months ago.
Chen, viewed by tech industry insiders as a turnaround artist, wants BlackBerry to zero in on its core base of corporate and government clients, and on its services arm, which secures mobile devices on the internal networks of big clients.
He sees that strategy as the best way to reverse market share losses to Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics and other companies that make smartphones powered by Google Inc's Android operating system. BlackBerry reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss on Friday.
Last month, at the annual Mobile World Congress trade fair in Barcelona, BlackBerry unveiled a new “classic” model with a keyboard that boasts a return of the command keys that include Menu, Back, Send and End buttons, along with a trackpad. The device, dubbed the Q20, will hit store shelves before the end of 2014.
Last year, BlackBerry's product launches emphasized full touch screens. And even the keyboard-equipped devices that it did introduce came without the command keys, alienating some of their die-hard fans.