BlackBerry launches last in-house phone as it retreats from manufacturing business

Image: Dave Liao/Flickr

The last phone that BlackBerry will develop has come to market.

The onetime king of the mobile enterprise released the DTEK60, an Android-based device targeted at mid-range and high-end business users. The handset is available unlocked from BlackBerry’s website for $500, although it will primarily be sold to businesses, governments and other organizations to be deployed to end users.

“It’s not necessarily an anti-carrier strategy,” COO Marty Beard said to Reuters of the distribution strategy. “It’s more that we see this as the most efficient and most cost-effective way to get that customer base.”

BlackBerry finally threw in the towel on the handset-manufacturing business last month, announcing that it will outsource the development and manufacturing of its phones to third parties. The company plans to hone its focus on software development and licensing, leaving the risks – and the low margins – of device manufacturing to others.

BlackBerry announced the move last month as it posted a net quarterly loss of $372 million on revenue of $334 million, down significantly from the $490 million it reported during the year-ago period.

The new device features a 5.5-inch screen, like the DTEK50 that preceded it, but with Snapdragon 820 processor and more muscular specs it is clearly a higher-end handset than the earlier generation device. The company is positioning the phone as an alternative to the iPhone, Google’s Pixel and other expensive phones, but targeted at users who place a high value on privacy and security.

“With the DTEK60, BlackBerry continues to focus on our strengths: state-of-the-art software and security solutions,” Ralph Pini, COO and general manager of Mobility Solutions at BlackBerry, said in a press release.

BlackBerry has moved aggressively into the patent licensing business in recent months. Earlier this year it launched a software licensing program for its mobility solutions business, introducing a suite of productivity and communications applications for Android devices. It recently filed a patent lawsuit against Avaya, claiming the telephony firm infringed on eight U.S. patents, and last month it filed a lawsuit claiming Blu Products had infringed on 15 of its patents.

Meanwhile, the company will depend on partners to develop and build phones to be sold under the BlackBerry brand, The Wall Street Journal reported. And it is developing an update to its BB10 operating system as it remains focused on using privacy and security to differentiate its platform.