BlackBerry chief John Chen hints at potential midrange smartphone next year

Ted Kritsonis/Digital Trends

The BlackBerry Priv might be the start of a new line of smartphones fit with the best of Android and the best of BlackBerry, according to chief executive John Chen. In an interview with Bloomberg, Chen said that if the Priv is successful, we might see more smartphones from the legendary mobile maker.

“Three or four months will tell us ‘is this a good strategy?’,” said Chen in the interview. “If [the Priv] is well received in the market, then yes. We will probably still focus very much on the high end, but we might look a little more into the midrange.”

Chen said that fiscal 2017 (calendar 2016) would be around the time the next smartphone launches, if it does. That could be the BlackBerry Vienna, which was leaked last month, or it might be the successor to the Priv.

BlackBerry seems confident in the future of the smartphone business. It has fallen down to less than 2 percent market share, but the Priv has sold 700,000 units in the four available markets so far. Chen said that the Priv will be available in 31 new markets in the next three months.

The chief executive said the next part of BlackBerry’s regrowth will be less about acquisitions and more about building new products internally. He also said that he would like to work with Tesla, Google, and other companies testing self-driving. When speaking about Samsung, Chen said that hardware partnerships were unlikely. The two companies work together to build security for mobile devices, and there have been acquisition rumors in the past.

It is not the first time Chen has said new mobile devices might be en route, in an interview with Fox Business News, the chief executive said that other devices were planned. In this interview he said once again the performance of the Priv will be a major factor in all hardware decisions going forward.