BlackBerry Key2 aims to keep faded iconic brand breathing

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“An icon reborn.” That’s the hopeful marketing phrase TCL Communication is using to pump up interest in the latest BlackBerry smartphone, the Key2, which begins to ship globally this month. In the U.S., it will cost $649. As with the BlackBerrys of yesteryear, this latest device emphasizes a physical Qwerty keyboard, industrial-strength security and long battery life.You’re forgiven if your first response is one of surprise: “BlackBerrys are still around?”It’s been about 16 months since China’s TCL, under the BlackBerry Mobile brand, unveiled a predecessor model, the BlackBerry KeyOne, at the Mobile World Congress industry trade show in Barcelona. By then BlackBerry — the Waterloo, Canada company — had stopped making BlackBerry hardware, instead licensing the brand to TCL. But that BlackBerry, known in its heyday as Research In Motion or RIM, still contributes much of the DNA inside a BlackBerry phone.In one form or another, BlackBerry has been on the comeback trail for several years now, and while the market for BlackBerry isn’t exactly thriving, the fact that there even will be a Key2 after the KeyOne has to say something.Lejeune recognizes that for the Key2 to succeed, BlackBerry must go beyond nostalgia and appeal to smartphone users who have grown up in the iPhone era, a tough task. He hopes that in the race to uniformity among smartphones, BlackBerrys will stand out for being, well, different.

 

 

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