New features for BBM and retention of keyboard at heart of BlackBerry strategy

New features for BBM and retention of keyboard at heart of BlackBerry strategy

There may have have been plenty of people questioning the decision to give BlackBerrys' flagship BBM service a launch on Android, but it has still managed to establish itself as one of the most used chat applications on the market.

As part of its strategy for 2014, the company has now revealed a host of new features for its updated version of BBM, including BBM voice and BBM Channels, both of which were promised earlier in the year.

BBM Channels will enable users to join discussions on topics that they are interested in, while also being able to post their own questions and threads.

Meanwhile, BBM Voice gives users the chance to make free VoIP calls to other BBM users anywhere in the world.

Video chats will also be supported by the new version, while BlackBerry has also promised more updates that could potentially make it easier to send images and files to other users.

The announcement comes amid the news that the company is to manufacture fewer touchscreen devices in the future, with newly installed chief John Chen stating that he hopes the firm will return to profit by 2016.

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, Mr Chen set out his plans to focus on winning deals in the enterprise, while also returning to BlackBerry’s roots of developing phones with physical keyboards.

A report by Bloomberg suggests that the reason for this decision is that many enterprise users prefer handsets with physical keyboards.

It comes after the disappointing performance of the company's Z10 touchscreen phone.

Mr Chen told Bloomberg TV: “I personally love the keyboards.

“In the future, the company’s phones will predominantly have physical keyboards rather than touchscreens.”

He also told journalists at CES that the company's recent manufacturing deal with Foxconn would have a great influence over its growth in 2014.

“Foxconn can be a really great partner, not only to eliminate my inventory risk, but also their ability to penetrate various different markets, call it the developing and emerging markets,” he said.