Blackberry has basically given up. The dusty old smartphone pioneer is releasing its second Android phone, even after investors (and an uninterested public) urged CEO John Chen to ditch the handset business altogether. But alas, here we are, and so is Blackberry's new smartphone, the DTEK50.
— BlackBerry (@BlackBerry) July 26, 2016
The DTEK50 is about as nice as it sounds. It's a cheap 5.2-inch Android smartphone made in China that sells for $US300 ($400), about half the price of a new iPhone. The phone will be able to download apps from the Google Play store, and it also comes loaded with Blackberry's own special security software, which most people will have absolutely no use for.
No matter how you slice it, Blackberry is desperate for a win. The company still makes about 40 per cent of its revenue from its flailing handset division, according to Bloomberg. Chen hopes that some of that useless software will unlock Blackberry's next big source of revenue. The executive also said he's giving the company until September to turn the handset division into a profitable enterprise — something that makes buying the DTEK50 a risky choice.
As you might expect from a wilfully ignorant leader like Chen, he believes that the company's first Android phone, the Priv, didn't sell as well as he'd hoped because it was too expensive. Our own reviewer had a different opinion, saying he wouldn't buy it "even for [his] own worst enemy".
Apparently our reviewer isn't the only person that feels this way. In July, the US Senate announced it would finally stop using Blackberry smartphones such as the Classic, Passport, Z10, Z30 and Q10. The announcement came as no surprise considering Blackberry's own $US2000 ($2664) ultra-encrypted handset was cracked by the Netherlands Forensics Institute earlier this year.
So one has to wonder: Does BlackBerry even care any more? Does the release of a mediocre phone made by a foreign company just confirm the idea that the company has dug its own grave and feels fine flopping into it, like a failed character in a Martin Scorsese film?
We'll see. Maybe the DTEK50 will be a hit. Probably not, though.