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Customers Excited About BlackBerry Passport, at Least According to BlackBerry

Actual interest still TBD.


BlackBerry has been trying to build excitement for its next phone, the BlackBerry Passport.

Last week, it showed off the large, wide phablet and its signature physical keyboard. On Monday, it highlighted some of the media write-ups and user comments.

“The BlackBerry Passport is proving that it is hip to be square, as early glimpses of the device’s massive, trend-bucking screen and innovative, touch-enabled keyboard last week attracted huge media attention and plenty of positive comments from readers (read: potential buyers),” said the company in a blog post.

It is different.

Where other devices aim for easy one-handed operation, BlackBerry says it wants to offer a wide display good for viewing large documents. As others abandon the physical keyboard, BlackBerry is doubling down there.

But whether the Passport will actually convince a large number of phone buyers to plunk down cash is an entirely different matter.

The company clearly needs a hit after the first crop of BlackBerry 10 devices failed to garner much enthusiasm, particularly in the U.S. where the company has practically fallen off the radar screen.

Globally, BlackBerry’s smartphone market share is projected to dip below one percent this year, according to IDC.

CEO John Chen has taken steps to help the company adjust to its smaller role. Rather than try to get a broad swath of developers to write apps for BlackBerry 10, Chen is focusing on core business apps and has forged a partnership with Amazon to use its Android Appstore as the source for most consumer applications.

Under Chen, BlackBerry has laid out a strategy of trying to focus on its server software and its core market of highly regulated industries. On the handset side, the company has partnered with contract manufacturer Flextronics, and Chen has pledged to either make the handset business healthy or stop making handsets.

The Passport will be a key test for which direction things are headed.

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