BlackBerry’s full-force return in the Philippines
Last Tuesday, BlackBerry made its return to the Philippines with the launch of the BlackBerry KEY2 and the BlackBerry KEY2 LE. We were fortunate enough to be able to have a short chat with TCL Communication’s Philippines Country Head Rudolph Santos, and TCL General Manager of Global Marketing, Stefan Streit, about BlackBerry making another splash in the country. Check it out!
Is BlackBerry’s return to the Philippines in full force?
Stefan: Yeah, yeah, that’s what we’re doing now, with this event and we launched two devices, the KEY2, and KEY2 LE, at two price points. I hope the Philippines will love BlackBerry devices.
Why bring BlackBerry in the Philippines?
Rudolph: Good question. With BlackBerry, we feel like the Philippines was one of the most important markets before. There’s a huge fanbase here that I call as BlackBerry lovers, so we want to hopefully achieve in reaching out to these BlackBerry lovers and get them back to using the device just like before. But this time, with the KEY2 and KEY2 LE having a better experience in using the QWERTY, because of its full-function touch and it’s also 100% Android, the security features and all that, a long-lasting battery.
Why release a 2018 model in the Philippines?
Rudolph: Let’s just say that BlackBerry is like that. It’s not the type of brand that will have several brands that will be launching at the same time. We feel that, even though it’s a product that was launched in the late part of 2018, we know that once it arrives, there is really a market. We’re the only product with a smart QWERTY keyboard, and there’s a premium (feel) to it. And those who are QWERTY lovers would really know what I’m talking about.
Would you ditch the QWERTY Keyboard in your future smartphone designs?
Stefan: We had one BlackBerry device which is a full-touch. I think the QWERTY keyboard is a critical element of the whole BlackBerry proposition. But what we want to do is like, offer the full-touch as an alternative. Because, specifically if you are in government organizations where there is a demand to use BB for its security, and there are a couple of people who just don’t like the keyboard, right? So, you need to have an alternative and still use it like BlackBerry so we to try to focus on keyboard utilizers but we try to have one which is a full-touch.
Are you currently developing any new smartphones?
Stefan: Yeah, we do demos of a lot of new smartphones. I think you know what’s happening now in the next 1, 2, 3 years is the 5G is coming, artificial intelligence, and for us, at the very very front is flexible displays. Cause we have our own distributing factors, with what you will see from TCL soon and we’ve shown some concepts like products where you can open and have a big, big display. Or make a regular smartphone and fold it in half. It will be a lot of fun because there’s a lot of product form factors coming into the market.
In your future devices, since there are a lot of smartphones these days that have pop-up cameras and the like, what would you focus on next?
Stefan: On BlackBerry, we’re looking at how to improve the Keyboard. We have a concept named Magic Keyboard. It is to make the keyboard more integrated into the whole product, that you can still enjoy a full display. This has something to do with the flexible display technology. There we see the opportunity to create different form factors, which we haven’t seen so far. This is something that will maybe bring the BlackBerry as well to more new people.
Now that BBM has shut down, what else do you think BlackBerry can offer aside from security?
Stefan: Well, security and privacy are very very important parts of the whole thing. There’s the lock functionality where you can put sensitive documents and content in a way nobody can see of access even if you lose your phone. Yeah, we’re also sad that BBM has been dropped but there are so many messaging apps which have replaced it so we understand as well. So, I think the main focus is security and productivity and reliability and there is more stuff to come when it comes to 5G from the BlackBerry software.
The Philippine market is heavily dominated by brands like Xiaomi, Huawei, and others, how about BlackBerry? Will they be able to compete in that space?
Rudolph: You know, for BlackBerry, we’re very clear with our objective. We’re going to be positioned in the premium segment. It’s really for the few, and we don’t mind. And from there, we will work our way up. What’s important is that we create a good amount of users, a userbase, that we can say “Alright, these are the BB Lovers, let’s start growing them.”
For future BlackBerry devices, will TCL still be its partner?
Rudolph: Well, you know what, TCL got the rights to sell the BlackBerry mobile phones about three years ago, so we’re building on that acquisition. Right now, we’re really optimistic this would be a portfolio that would be falling under TCL company’s management.
A message to the BlackBerry lovers in the Philippines?
Stefan: Well, I hope that you like the new devices and that we’ve had a lot of success in the countries where we launched it and now we’re back, we won’t disappoint you if you have been loving BlackBerry.
It’s pretty interesting to have BlackBerry in the country’s smartphone industry once more. The brand used to be the in-thing before, a status symbol if you will. Mr. Rudolph Santos noted during the event that one of his children mentioned how BlackBerry was all the rage for a ton of college students and business people in the upper segment. No one had really seen its decline in the Philippines coming but that’s all in the past now, with the launch of the KEY2 and KEY2 LE. It’s interesting, hearing how TCL and BlackBerry are ensuring the BlackBerry lovers that they are back for good and not only that but also, have more plans in store moving forward.
BlackBerry KEY2 and Blackberry KEY2 LE can be purchased at the official store of MemoXpress or BlackBerry in Shopee will grant you a free QCY T1 TWS Bluetooth Earphones (MemoXpress only) and P62 10000mAH powerbank (MemoXpress only). The BlackBerry KEY 2 LE, on the other hand, will have an MS71 Bluetooth Headphone (MemoXpress only) and P62 10000mAH powerbank as its freebies.
Customers can also order the KEY 2 and get a PHP 1,000 off while the KEY 2 LE will have a PHP 500 discount upon purchasing them at BlackBerry’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.