It was beloved by the powerful and feared by politicians keen to monitor citizen’s conversation, but now Canadian phonemaker, Blackberry has announced that it is no longer going to design its own smartphones after 14 years in the mobile phone business.
The company, which is famed for its “Qwerty” keyboard mobile phones that were the choice handset for professionals, has been struggling to keep up with market leaders Apple and Samsung as the world moved to touchscreens. It also struggled with its software and embraced Android to keep itself in business. It also introduced BBM on Android and iOS.
Now, the company has announced it was going to focus on creating software for mobile phones, rather than the devices themselves. Instead, it will outsource the brand to other manufacturers.
“The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to our partners,” said John Chen, chief executive and executive chairman of Blackberry. “We are focusing on software development, including security and applications.”
The news comes as Blackberry reported losses of $372m (£286m) in the last quarter, compared with a profit of $51m in the same period last year. Blackberry’s sales so far this year have fallen to $734m down from $1.1bn in the first six months of 2015.
The demise of Blackberry’s handset making division follows efforts to compete with other smartphones. The Canadian company released its first Android smartphone last year, which was followed with the Dtek50 this summer, billed as “the world’s most secure Android smartphone”.
However, it has failed to reverse a trend of falling revenues since 2010, when the company was at its peak. The popularity of BlackBerry Messenger and its high-tech email system made its phones a smash hit among young users and professionals alike, but Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android software, with millions of apps and full touchscreens, rendered them obsolete.
BlackBerry’s response, its BlackBerry 10 software, was released late and was poorly received, and the company’s market share continued to dwindle despite a core of dedicated users.
The company’s revenues continued to decline and under Chen, who took charge in 2013, it has focused on developing secure software for smartphones.