Despite setbacks, BlackBerry is soldiering on with a new phone to debut this September. On the company’s quarterly financial results call Thursday morning, BlackBerry CEO John Chen spilled the beans a bit early, saying the company will have a phone launch event in London. The handset will be called the Passport and is reportedly the previously leaked phone code-named Windermere according to CrackBerry.
When you look at photos of the handset, you’ll probably understand the name of Passport as the handset is shaped like one. Reported photos of the phone while in development show a wide footprint with a keyboard across the bottom.
The shape of the phone is definitely different and it does have the famed BlackBerry keyboard that so many love. The shape of the company is still in question, however.
In its quarterly results, BlackBerry noted that only 1.6 million handsets were sold. That’s up from the 1.3 million in the prior three months, but still a long way from the sales of other smartphone companies. On the plus side, BlackBerry’s adjusted gross margins are on the rise — from 43 to 48 percent — and it has boosted its cash and investments balance from $2.8 billion to $3.1 billion, so it’s not going away anytime soon.
While it’s strange to have details of a future phone and launch shared in advance and on an investor call, it makes sense in BlackBerry’s case. Chen has to keep showing forward progress for the company and can’t wait three months for a phone launch. It’s better for him, and for BlackBerry, to build as much buzz as it can about any new revenue opportunities.