BlackBerry Going Back to Physical Keyboards

BlackBerry phonesBlackBerry is going back to its roots. The handset maker is reportedly re-embracing physical keyboards and focusing on corporate clients rather than woo everyday consumers with sleek, touchscreen phones.

RIM took a cue from other mobile manufactures and introduced touchscreen phones with the launch of BB 10. To be clear, the company didn’t do away with physical keyboards altogether, but it certainly was pushing the touch screen Z10 pretty hard. Since the touchscreen line failed to capture everyday users, the company is going back to the basics both in terms of keyboards and target market, CEO John Chen told Bloomberg.

“I personally love the keyboards,” Chen said in an interview yesterday with Bloomberg Television’s Jon Erlichman at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In the future, the company’s phones will “predominantly” have physical keyboards, he said, rather than touch screens.

Chen, who took the CEO job in November, is trying to rebuild the company after last year’s BlackBerry 10 touch-screen lineup fizzled with consumers — contributing to billions of dollars of writedowns. As part of his comeback plan, BlackBerry is refocusing on the corporate and government customers that fueled its early success. Those users preferred real keyboards because they made it easier to hammer out e-mails.

If you do have a touchscreen BlackBerry, don’t worry, it’s not going to phase out too quickly. RIM is still soliciting Android app developers to submit their apps to the BlackBerry World app store. An update in November made it easier for Android apps to run natively on BlackBerry.

Android apps that use shared libraries written in native-code, such as C and C++, will now be supported on BlackBerry 10. Support is limited to the recommended system headers and APIs as documented by Google. Headers and APIs outside this scope may not function correctly.

While all apps are likely welcome, Good e-Reader reports at least four game developers it spoke to say they’ve been approached by RIM and the company is offering extra incentives for developers who submit apps this month.

This will give you plenty of consumer apps to test with your touchscreen Blackberry and something to look forward to if you have the chance to test future corporate apps for the market BB hopes to capture.

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