Speaking on BlackBerry’s fiscal Q4 earnings call on Friday, CEO John Chen laid out the company’s roadmap for future devices in 2014. Plans reportedly include a global release for the all-touch Z3, renewed production of the still-popular BlackBerry Bold 9900, and a launch for the mysterious Q20.
Beyond one leaked photo of what looks like a massive square screen, BlackBerry’s Q20 QWERTY handset has remained out of sight. During the call Chen referred to the device as a “classic” device and claimed early prototypes have already received positive feedback. The upcoming flagship will launch in late 2014 with a full keyboard including Menu, Back, Send, End buttons and a trackpad,
The Z3, which is manufactured by Foxconn and aimed at the Indonesian market, will apparently get a global launch as well. The all-touch device will hit Indonesia in April for around $200 off-contract, while a presumably more expensive LTE model will arrive in the U.S. and around the world further down the road.
The biggest surprise, however, may be the plans for increased production of the BlackBerry Bold and with it the company’s BlackBerry 7 OS. The older handset still appeals to customers around the world. ”Our customers still love the BB OS device, particularly BB7 devices. We’ll continue to make these devices available and support the operating system as long as there is customer demand,” Chen said. BlackBerry 7 devices still outsell newer BlackBerry 10 smartphones.
BlackBerry’s new hardware strategy could make for interesting results. Splitting responsibilities between its own facilities and Foxconn’s the company takes more responsibility off itself, and the name BlackBerry Classic could also signal a move away from the failed Z10-Q10 strategy and towards something fresh. In the short term, however, the majority of BlackBerry’s revenue comes from services and not devices.