Rumor Mill: BlackBerry to target 4 different market segments with new smartphones

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) has been saying quite a lot about its forthcoming square smartphone called the Passport, but has been more circumspect about the other smartphones in its pipeline. According to a leaked product roadmap posted by the BlackBerry blog N4BB, the company will use its 2014 smartphone launches to target four distinct market segments within its existing and potential customer base.

The blog noted that the devices are going to be marketed at "Affordable," "Classic," "Innovative" and "Prestige" audiences. The roadmap describes different attributes for each of those segments. Those in the Affordable segment want "contemporary yet affordable" devices; those in the Classic market are enterprise users who want "powerful yet uncomplicated" phones; the Innovative segment is for those seeking "unique yet purposeful" devices; and the Affluent crowd is looking for "high design yet functional" products.

A BlackBerry spokeswoman declined to comment.

The product roadmap lays out some devices that have been publicly mentioned by BlackBerry and some that have not been discussed. The Affordable smartphone for the roadmap appears to be the LTE variant of the all-touch, low-cost Z3 smartphone that BlackBerry unveiled in May for the Indonesian market, which the roadmap describes as an upgrade for feature phone customers and those on the older BlackBerry 7 OS.

The Classic market is being targeted with the Q20, which BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said will actually be called the Classic. The phone has a full Qwerty keyboard and is expected to be released by year-end, and is described in the roadmap as an upgrade for subscribers with Qwerty phones.

BlackBerry is going after the Innovative segment with the Passport, which will be released next month and which BlackBerry executives have said is ideal for enterprise customers, especially those who want to view spreadsheets on their phone.

The Prestige market will be targeted with a device that looks like the phone BlackBerry is rumored to be designing with Porsche. That phone, codenamed Khan, is expected to sport a 3.5-inch touchscreen, a dual-core 1.7 GHz processor and 64 GB of storage.

In terms of regaining market share, BlackBerry will need all the help it can get. The company had just 0.5 percent global smartphone market share in the second quarter, according to research firm IDC, down from 2.8 percent in the year-ago period.

At an event in late July on enterprise security, Charles Eagan, BlackBerry's vice president of software foundation technology for devices, noted that the company has "a multi-year product portfolio" before he was cut off by the company's public relations team.

According to a leaked internal memo released earlier this month, Chen said the company has finished its three-year-long restructuring efforts, and is now ready to begin hiring new workers and making strategic acquisitions.

"We have completed the restructuring notification process, and the workforce reduction that began three years ago is now behind us," Chen wrote in the memo, according to Reuters. "More importantly, barring any unexpected downturns in the market, we will be adding headcount in certain areas such as product development, sales and customer service, beginning in modest numbers."

Meanwhile, the firm also recently launched a new business unit to manage its patent portfolio and combine some of its top technologies. The unit, called BlackBerry Technology Solutions, or BTS, includes its QNX software for embedded wireless systems, its "Project Ion" Internet of Things application platform, Certicom cryptography applications and Paratek RF antenna tuning.

For more:
- see this N4BB post
- see this CNET article
- see this BGR article

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