Jul 07, 2016

    BlackBerry to 'hang up' on the Classic phone


    BLACKBERRY said on Tuesday it will stop making its Classic model, raising further doubts about the future of the smartphone pioneer's money-losing handset business as it shifts its focus to software.

    BlackBerry's stock fell more than 4 per cent after an executive confirmed the move in a blog post.

    It launched the Classic less than two years ago, hoping it would appeal to people yearning for a physical keyboard in a world of touchscreens.

    "Clearly, the Classic was not sufficiently retro-cool to attract new users," said John Jackson, a technology analyst at International Data.

    "This marks the end of an era that actually ended several years ago for all but a very small number of devotees."

    The Classic, similar in design to its Bold predecessor, is powered by the overhauled BlackBerry 10 operating system, which failed to regain market share that was lost to Apple's iPhone and others.

    BlackBerry has since launched a phone powered by the dominant Android software and plans several more.

    BlackBerry chief executive John Chen last month expressed confidence the company's trimmed-down handset business can turn a profit by a self-imposed September deadline.

    The decision to end production of the Classic adds pressure on BlackBerry to exit handsets, said Morningstar analyst Brian Colello. Without a hit mid-range, BlackBerry likely will not be able to keep its handset business going or sell it to another company, he said.

    Separately, an internal US Senate memo sent by IT staff and seen by Reuters on Tuesday said BlackBerry had told major US carriers Verizon and AT&T that all BlackBerry devices running BlackBerry 10 had been discontinued.

    The memo said the Senate's mobile communications services department had just over 600 BlackBerry devices in stock at the end of June, including 320 Classics.