BlackBerry's Foxconn-made phone to cost under $200 as CEO pledges not to give up on consumers

BlackBerry's Foxconn-made phone to cost under $200 as CEO pledges not to give up on consumers

Summary: BlackBerry's more modest smartphone plans in 2014 will see at least two devices emerge from the company.

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BlackBerry isn't ready to give up on consumers just yet, revealing its new partnership with Foxconn will culminate in a touchscreen phone priced at under $200.

Recently-appointed BlackBerry CEO John Chen shared details of the upcoming Foxconn-made BlackBerry device at the CES conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

The manufacturing deal with Foxconn was outlined along with the release of BlackBerry's worse than expected Q3 results as part of a turnaround plan for the company, following failed efforts to recapture the high-end smartphone market now controlled by Apple and Samsung.

While the Foxconn-made touchscreen device will be aimed at consumers in Indonesia and other emerging markets, Chen also said BlackBerry will launch a higher-end smartphone with a traditional keyboard, ZDNet's sister site CNET reported.

BlackBerry's smartphone plans have been dialled down in recent months, but Chen reiterated that BlackBerry is "not retreating from the consumer business". And while the CEO admitted Samsung and its efforts around Knox "could be a threat" in the enterprise, BlackBerry isn't ready to admit defeat yet. "I love a good fight," Chen said. 

Besides the Foxconn deal, BlackBerry has made number of key executive changes in the past few weeks, including dropping Alicia Keys as its chief creative officer and appointing former HTC exec Ron Louks to head up its devices business.

Chen denied BlackBerry was outsourcing its devices business to Foxconn, but noted that it would be letting Foxconn take a bigger role in emerging markets. Foxconn will take on mechanical design as well hold inventory for the devices, in addition to offering savings by utilising more standardised components, he said. However, BlackBerry's own salesforce will continue selling devices.

Chen, who has said he will stay at BlackBerry throughout its turnaround, expects the company to be financially and strategically sound within the next 18 months.

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Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Smartphones

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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5 comments
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  • I still think it is too late for Blackberry...

    ...to remain a viable hardware manufacturer in the long-term, but I think John Chen has made some smart moves so far to try to salvage Blackberry's position. It's too bad Chen couldn't have taken over in early 2012 when the overmatched Thorsten Heins became the CEO, or perhaps taken over from the Lazaridis/Baisillie duo at the time when Blackberry had to take stronger action in response to the iOS/Android threat (which was about 2008, or more specifically no later than after Blackberry presumably realized the BB Storm wasn't going to be a good product).

    Blackberry 10 is a solid mobile OS IMO (I own a Z10), but it arrived way, way too late. (In an ideal world Blackberry would have started releasing BB10 devices no later than fall 2010, and absolutely no later than fall 2011.) It is considerably behind WP8 in its app collection IMO, much less iOS and Android. (I own devices for all four operating systems.)
    CHIP72
    • Nothing is too late... ever. Quality should have a chance.

      Yes they screwed up; but so did MS. The reality though is that IOS is stuck with secure apps and a total hassle of supporting them in business. Enter MS and BB and both have products aligned way, way, better to business and far more easily supported. Less hardware, less servers, less staff... and guess what LESS TO GO WRONG!!!!! Yes they are late but anyone would be a fool, nay, an idiot to discount someone for being late to the party!

      Personal use may be different BUT that's a choice we all have to make. As a business device I'm looking at two profiles on my Z10 and the apps I need plus segregation of user data. I can open passworded Office docs and edit them.. can't do that on my iPhone, can't even open them! I've all I want in a multitasking device with windows easily selectable.... what more could I ask for (especially given that I have an iPhone too but choose to use the Z10 at work)

      For me... too many folk think Blackberry is the old junk rather than the BES10 stuff, and too many folk are so biased they are happy to propagate that myth. At least you have a new device... most folk I see are surprised when I tell them its a Z10 in my hand. Bewildered in fact.
      johnmckay
  • Blackberry Q10 is POS

    I have just upgraded my Blackberry Bold to a Q10 thinking great! a bigger keyboard but what a disappointment, it hangs at the least touchscreen input and I have to reboot it three or 4 times a day. The Bold OS did so much more than the Q10 OS and doesn't hang up the whole phone at the critical times. Blackberry deserve to go down the S-Bend putting junk like this on the market as an upgrade.
    Desperate Dan
    • Calm down man....

      Duds do exist. As a user of the Z10 and Q10 I have no idea what you're talking about. I've moved from the 9800 and whilst I miss the keyboard slider.... I have absolutely none of the issues you refer to. Maybe yours is faulty; it happens... just like the multitude of Androids and iPhones I see in a month. Might I state again that many of us have totally useless IPhone 4s devices that Apple refuse to accept have an inbuilt wifi/Bluetooth fried malfunction. Every piece of kit can be faulty at some time. Me... I have long put forwad Blackberry BES10 as a more manageable solution and the devices are great.

      You can open passworded docs and edit them. Apple devices can't open them never mind edit them. There's a balance and if everyone wants BYOD then I'd rather they supported them as the reality is a total pain in the a$$ comapered to the BES.
      johnmckay
  • Desperate

    Are you perhaps a Apphole or MS shill, spreading FUD on Blackberry?
    Denny Fry