BlackBerry on Tuesday unveiled its second Android smartphone, a device that learns from the mistakes of the Priv and targets mid-range consumers with a $299 price tag.
The new device, dubbed the DTEK50, comes at half the cost of the Priv, which BlackBerry CEO John Chen previously admitted was priced too high to achieve mainstream success.
BlackBerry’s head of device sales Alex Thurber on Tuesday called the device “a win for the business and it’s a win for the end user.”
“It has a much broader market than the Priv did,” Thurber said during Tuesday’s webcast launch.
The DTEK50 runs Android Marshmallow 6.0 on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 Octa-Core 64 bit processor, and comes equipped with a 5.2-inch screen, 16 GB of storage, an 8 mp front camera, 13 mp rear camera and BlackBerry security. Unlike its predecessor, the DTEK50 has dropped the traditional physical BlackBerry keyboard in favor of a touchscreen version.
The DTEK50 also comes with a slew of security features for customers concerned about privacy and cybercrime. The device features encryption for all user information, including business critical data, and personal photos, videos and contacts. The phone also has built-in malware protection, app access controls and rapid security patching.
Starting immediately, the DTEK50 will be available for pre-order through BlackBerry’s online store, as well as through more than 40 sales partners including Rogers, Bell, TELUS, and WIND in Canada and Best Buy, B&H and Amazon in the United States.
The device will initially debut in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, but additional global channels will be announced in the coming weeks, BlackBerry said.
With a lower price, the DTEK50 offers BlackBerry’s struggling smartphone division a chance to succeed where the Priv couldn’t. While both consumers and enterprise shied away from the Priv’s $700 price tag, the DTEK50’s security features and more reasonable cost just might draw some users back into the fold.
But any turnaround needs to come quickly.
In the three months ended May 31, 2016, Blackberry’s mobile segment brought in just $152 million in revenue, down from $190 million the previous quarter and $269 million a year earlier.
Chen has repeatedly said BlackBerry might exit the smartphone market if it can’t make money. As of last week, however, Chen said the company wasn’t to that point yet.
Chen also recently hinted there might be another option on the table for BlackBerry’s smartphone business: licensing.
At last week’s BlackBerry Security Conference, Chen said BlackBerry might be able to “sustain it as a business by not having to make every handset.
“We could license our technology and know-how and IT in how people make handsets, maybe even the name for that matter,” Chen said. “When I segmented out the device business, I didn’t call it a device business. It’s a mobile solutions business. So whether it’s crypto or antenna, we are willing to license it.”