In a last-ditch attempt to win back customers, BlackBerry (BBRY) Ltd. has decided to bring back its trademark “belt” of five function keys that have been sorely missed by many on BlackBerry 10 devices.
According to a Monday Globe & Mail report that references sources familiar with the company, BlackBerry’s chief executive officer John Chen will announce Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, that the Waterloo, Ont.-based company, which had abandoned the trackpad and other core function keys with the launch of a new family of smartphones this past year, will restore its popular set of command keys that sat between the screen and keyboard [Call/Dial- Menu – Trackpad – Back – End call buttons].
The belt will appear later this year on the company’s line of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, which as we all know, continues to struggle in terms of catching on in an increasingly competitive smartphone market. Research firm Gartner said in late November that BlackBerry smartphones finished fourth in market share based on global sales in Q3, behind Google’s (GOOG) Android, Apple (AAPL)’s iOS and Microsoft (MSFT)’s Windows platform.
A company spokesman declined to confirm the announcement to the paper. While BlackBerry hasn’t confirmed the device, in a recent interview to be published later this week in Report on Business Magazine, Mr. Chen, who joined the company this past November, said that future BlackBerry 10 smartphones “will have some of the features our power-users love”.
BBRY closed at $9.14 on Friday and is currently trading +4.27 percent in pre-market trading. The ticker has fallen more than 97% between the July 2007 peak and the $5.44 low in December 2013.