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It’s now 15 years since the first BlackBerry device, a pager, hit the shelves in Munich, Germany. Since then the company and its products have gone through many changes and upheavals, but remain at the forefront of an industry in which innovation is everything. Market share around the world has been affected as other formats of smartphone have been introduced, particularly the touchscreen as epitomized by Apple’s iPhone. But BlackBerry has a solid user base who have appreciated the company’s adoption of such new technology when the time is right. Now CEO John Chen has suggested that the firm might be about to enter the phablet arena.

Strategy

Chen said, in an interview with the Jakarta Post, “I think if you look at our strategy and if you look at where the market goes, there is definitely a good market for something between a phone and tablet.” It’ll be an intriguing move for BlackBerry users, as Chen has promised not to enter the tablet market unless the firm can bring something new to the table. 

BlackBerry has rightly become known as a producer of business-oriented products, and Chen also said that one imminent development is going to be e-BBM, BlackBerry Messenger for enterprise. The history of BlackBerry is a story of both development of, and adaption to, new technology.

Apps

It’s a misconception that modern BlackBerry devices are all about business. The AppWorld store is full of useful software like the SkyScanner app that allows you to book flights to and from anywhere in the world, and Expensify which promises to make your expense claims less of a nightmare. 

But there’s also a world of entertainment available, in particular to BlackBerry-using sports fans. Soccer buffs can keep up with the World Cup using the official FIFA app. NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB fans who want to back their teams are also well catered to. One of the most important issues for people who choose to use an online sportsbook is trust; gamblers need to know they’re not going to be cheated. But today people also want a good experience betting on their phone. The SportsBookReview ranks bookmakers by the quality of their mobile product. For those looking to watch the game, FilmOn’s BlackBerry app will let you stream live sports events as they’re televised.

Instagram and PhotoStudio Pro are available for photographers, and of course social media apps are among the most popular with BlackBerry users. WhatsApp is a useful supplement to BBM, and Facebook and Twitter apps are amongst the most downloaded. 

Z3 Launch

Chen was in Indonesia as part of the launch of the Z3, a low cost handset that signals the company’s intentions to win back some of its market share in the country. The Z3 boasts a 5 inch display with 540×960 resolution and supports multitouch. The unit retails at under $200 USD, and it was reported in May that at least three Indonesian retailers had sold out of the device. The spec sheet contains everything a consumer would hope for in a 2014 device, and users report a refreshing change from Android and iOS systems.

Early Days

It’s been a long road from the 6230, one of the most popular of the 6000 series. The 5000 and 6000 models had monochrome screens and ran Java, communicating over 2G networks. In the early years of the century, sending email on a mobile device with a thumb-operated keyboard was revolutionary – and, of course, somewhat addictive! BlackBerry’s new devices and stated path ahead signal a new outlook for a firm that has been built on groundbreaking new ideas.

Road Ahead

“The whole idea for BlackBerry in the future is we will build infrastructure that connects everything”, promised Chen. “Mobile, IP addresses, everything.” 

Chen is looking to the future; “When the world talks about negative things, let us talk about positive things.”