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January 9, 2014

Can a return to physical keyboards roots save BlackBerry?

CEO John Chen said the firm’s phones will “predominantly” have physical keyboards.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

BlackBerry this week announced that it would return its focus to physical keypads in a bid to target businessmen and government customers.

The Canadian smartphone maker that was on top its game just four years ago believes the QWERTY keyboard can return the company to profit.

CEO John Chen, who was CEO of once-struggling software maker Sybase, told the Financial Times at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas he expects the company to be cash flow positive within four quarters and profitable by the end of March 2016.

In another move show how important keyboards are, BlackBerry also filed a lawsuit against Typo Products, the maker of a snap-on keypad accessory for the phone, over alleged infringements that the design closely resembles its keyboard case.

Less than two years ago, BlackBerry appointed Thosten Heins as its new CEO as he pledged to make the BlackBerry smartphone relevant again. However, last year proved unlucky for the company after it cut 40% of its workforce as well as reporting $968m (£588m) loss in Q2 and being acquired by a consortium led by Fairfax Financial as it struggled to sell BlackBerry Storm and the more recent BlackBerry Z10 and Z30.

Chen’s latest vision could help BlackBerry re-establish themselves as a major smartphone player. He also outlined plans to focus on its BlackBerry Enterprise Service, BlackBerry Messanger, NX embedded software and connected cars.

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