BlackBerry today unveiled its square-screened Passport smartphone after months of leaks running up to its official unveiling. Aside from its unusual square appearance, the new BlackBerry Passport has a 4.5-inch (1440 x 1440 resolution) display, key hardware specs include a condensed version of BlackBerry’s signature Qwerty keyboard, a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 3GB RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. It’ll also support microSD cards up to 64GB. On the rear, there’s a 13-megapixel snapper, complimented by a 2-megapixel sensor for video chats and selfies on the front.
In an interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang (@emilychangtv) BlackBerry Chairman and CEO John Chen revealed the idea behind the square screen.
On how BlackBerry came up with the square screen:
“How it come up because we talked to the customers and they look at how they use the device and for productivity, and looking at the new style apps, looking at the vertical apps and healthcare apps. And we figure that the wider and more one-to-one aspect ratio is what everybody will need for achieving more. So that’s how we came up with it.”
On expecting revenue growth next year:
“I told people that we were going to be profitable in fiscal year ’16, so sometime in 2015 calendar, and I’m standing by it depending on the receptivity of all these phones and the Classic coming out in about two months. Our software releases on (inaudible) next month. I’m expecting to see some growth next year. So with that, if I could get some growth on the top line, I’ll be able to make it profitable sooner.”
On how many BlackBerry Passports he thinks they will sell:
“I am not disclosing it right now, but we expect it to be successful. But the market will tell me that. And we have various different ideas that we could kind of use this as a mother-daughter type approach. So we’ll – we’re going to have to gauge what the market does. So far it seems to be pretty good.”
On BlackBerry’s market share:
“My job is to make sure that doesn’t happen, right? And I — I think we have a good plan. We have a good set of portfolios. By the way, despite of everything that we’ve gone through, this is the third phone that we released this year. And there was also one coming out in a couple of months called the Classic. And so we started out with the Z3 in May and it’s now in about 13 countries and seems to be received quite well.
And then we just announced the Porsche phone, Porsche-designed phone on September 17, and now we’re doing it obviously here in Toronto myself and my colleagues in Dubai and London. So – and releasing that phone. So things are – I think we could pick up the pace and we should be – we should be gaining market share as we move forward.”
On what he thinks of reports that the iPhone 6 bends:
“I have no idea. I just read before I came here this morning and I thought it was a little amusing. You know me, right? I in good humor and to mean to be mean to anybody. But on the other hand, our Passport is extremely well built and I would – it’s somewhat of a challenge, but you have to do it the same way. You have to put it in your pocket and then you see whether it bends or not. I would doubt it could happen.”
On whether the BlackBerry Passport was tested for bending:
“Well we do a lot of mechanical testing. I don’t know whether we particularly do the bending, but I could tell you we actually here showcased the – kind of the five layer of the phone, including the antenna layer. It’s just a complete steel frame around – inside the phone. So bending that needs a little – needs a little effort.”
On the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch:
“What do I think? I really don’t know enough – I’ve been so busy I don’t know enough how to comment on that. Obviously they have their audience and I’m hoping to go after my audience, which is about the people who strongly needs productivity. And this phone should appeal to them.”
**CREDIT: BLOOMBERG TELEVISION INTERVIEW WITH EMILY CHANG**