BlackBerry talked about a new partnership with Foxconn, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, at the end of December. However, outside of an early 2014 estimate, it didn’t confirm when the fruits of their combined labor would appear. Now, in a report published by Focus Taiwan, it’s indicated we’ll see the first examples during Mobile World Congress, which begins at the end of February.
The news comes from Foxconn’s chairman, Terry Gou, who was quoted as saying, “We are working with BlackBerry to design a new device, and we will showcase multiple devices at the trade show in Barcelona in February.” BlackBerry didn’t have much of a presence at CES, and hasn’t made a big impact at MWC for the last couple of years. The change of tactics could be related to the cancelation of BlackBerry Live, its own developer conference where new hardware has been revealed in the past, previously scheduled for May 2014.
Before we get too excited about seeing a selection of new BlackBerry phones, the release schedule may mean they won’t be sold in the U.S. or parts of Europe. When the partnership was confirmed, BlackBerry said it would initially sell its new devices in Indonesia, with other unnamed, but fast growing markets to follow.
Regarding the hardware itself, it’s not clear whether we’ll be getting some new BlackBerry 10 hardware, or phones running the older BlackBerry OS 7 software. The older operating system was installed on nearly three quarters of BlackBerry phones sold between July and the end of September last year, so can’t be written off just yet.
It is almost certain one of the new phones will have a physical keyboard, after John Chen said in a recent interview he wanted the majority of new BlackBerry devices to incorporate the iconic feature. Clinging onto what once made BlackBerry great may help differentiate it from the competition, but most of the smartphone buying public seems to want the cool-factor of a touchscreen. Just not a BlackBerry one.
Mobile World Congress starts on February 24 in Barcelona, and we’ll tell you more about the new BlackBerry devices as news becomes public.
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