Back in September, BlackBerry announced that they will outsource smartphone manufacturing to its partners and will concentrate on software development alone. However, this didn't mean that the company had washed its hands off smartphone development and like CEO John Chen confirmed to BNN, even after handset manufacturing is outsourced, the company's iconic physical QWERTY keyboard will 'continue on' and that the company will license the manufacturing rights of QWERTY keyboards to its partners.
What this basically means that BlackBerry will from now on work exclusively on creating new Enterprise solutions that will work with Android OS and may continue to release phones in the future which have been manufactured by its partners. As of now, the company is putting all its money on its proprietary Hub+ services which let Android device users enjoy BlackBerry's security and productivity features without having to buy a BlackBerry phone.
BlackBerry to outsource device manufacturing, but QWERTY keyboards aren't dead yet
While Enterprise solutions will from now on be the company's 'core' business, BlackBerry seems intent on keeping close tabs on how smartphones sold under its logo will be designed. A new BlackBerry patent published a few days ago suggests that not only will the physical keyboard continue in its future phones, but the phones will also feature new technologies to remain competitive in the hard-fought smartphone market. The patent was obtained for a new touch-sensitive keyboard which will serve as a mode of authentication for unlocking the phone.
"For a computing device that employs a touch-sensitive keyboard, authentication may involve illustrating, to the electronic device, knowledge of a stored secret though providing input, at least in part, via the touch-sensitive keyboard. The input may be in the form of swipes alone or in combination with key actuations. Furthermore, the swipes and key actuations may be associated with a particular region of the touch-sensitive keyboard," said the patent.
BlackBerry has already released the mid-range DTEK50 smartphone this year and as per rumours, may launch an upgraded DTEK60 smartphone next year. However, yet another leak has confirmed that BlackBerry is working on another phone code-named Mercury which it may launch soon. The device in question appeared on Geekbench and its listing suggests that it will run the latest Android 7.0 Nougat OS and will feature a 4.5-inch HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 32GB of internal storage, 3GB of RAM, a monster 3,400 mAh battery and 18-MP and 8-MP rear and front cameras.
As of now, we are not aware when or if BlackBerry will release the two phones in question. The DTEK50 is a competent mid-range phone with premium security features and we aren't sure if BlackBerry would like to add another device into the saturated mid-range mix. What is clear is that the company hasn't quite given up on smartphone development even if the actual manufacturing will be outsourced and it will thus be interesting to see if the company's continued interest in device development will bear fruit in the long run.
Source: Phone Arena