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Blackberries used to be a permanent fixture on the hip of many professionals, but in recent years, lots of those users have ditched the “crack berry” in favor of iPhone or Android devices. Vultures have circled over the company as a few of its new smart phones flopped.
But despite the ongoing death watch, Blackberry is still alive and will likely debut two new phones this week: The Classic and the Passport.
However, it’s not trying to reclaim its old status, says Charles Golvin, the founder and principle analyst of Abelian Research.
“It would be a mistake to think about Blackberry as a competitor to Apple and the iPhone or other Android-based device manufacturers,” says Golvin. “They’re not focused on consumers, they’re focused on businesses.”
Blackberry’s target is “the hard-core email user who’s in a regulated industry where the keyboard is really the value-added differentiator,” explains Bryan Prohm, an analyst who covers Blackberry for Cowen and Company.
These phones are meant to attract government, finance, and legal users, plus IT managers who will be tempted by Blackberry’s security and device management software.
The devices are a way to get people to use Blackberry’s software – the company’s real focus these days.
So is this makeover enough to shoo away the vultures?
“The way I see it is, it’s a reinvention in progress,” says Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research. “There’s still lots of challenges before we know whether [Blackberry] will survive. So I haven’t written them off, but they really aren’t competitive anymore in the consumer handset market.”
The company, which declined to comment for this story, has stabilized its financials in recent quarters. But Apple is also chasing corporate clients. It announced a new partnership with IBM recently, with its eye on a similar business prize.