BlackBerry COO says keyboard is here to stay

BlackBerry's COO Marty Beard has sought to reassure customers that it will not be phasing out the keyboard, nor will it stop making BlackBerry software in favour of Android.

Following news that BlackBerry would be discontinuing the BlackBerry Classic with its hardware keyboard, Beard said that it is important for the company to listen to its customers and as they are still demanding 'real' keys, it will continue making such devices.

"Our customers also help us decide what type of keyboard we make for them. And what they ask for is choice in both a virtual and physical keyboard," Beard said.

"This means we'll continue to make our iconic BlackBerry keyboard...There is solid demand for physical keyboards and as long as that's the case, we'll continue to make them. For virtual keyboard fans, you have Leap and PRIV (just keep that slider down)."

He also explained the company would not be getting rid of its BlackBerry software on all devices, but it would be offering more Android devices as the looks for new opportunities outside of purely smartphones.

"We are committed to not just maintaining BB10 software, but advancing it to be even more secure and provide even greater productivity," Beard said. "You'll see that with the next 10.3.3 update coming within the next month, which will be focused on enhancing our already-stellar privacy and security features."

The Internet of Things is set to be a big trend for BlackBerry in future, but its own operating system doesn't offer the content currently available on Android, so the decision to bring Android and BlackBerry together was a strategic one, rather than a cop out.

"Our view is that the rapidly growing mobile environment is quickly being encompassed by an IoT world that requires‎ both strong security and connectivity," Beard explained, adding that the decision to leverage Android would allow BlackBerry to take advantage of that.

"We wanted to merge the best of BlackBerry with Android the notion of a new merged BlackBerry platform meant we would provide the security and connectivity BlackBerry is known for, with the content available in the Android ecosystem all in one environment."

He finished his statement by saying that BlackBerry is not a brand to fit into the industry standard mould, instead it is trying to break free and that means innovation is key.

"Besides our burgeoning enterprise software business, the new Mobility Solutions division has defined a strategy enabling us to agilely pursue opportunities in this new security-focused era," Beard said.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.