BlackBerry (BBRY) just released its first look at the new BlackBerry Passport. And the BlackBerry smartphone certainly stands out, designed in a square shape instead of the conventional rectangular shape of handsets like the iconic iPhone from Apple (AAPL).
Regardless of whether you think the new BlackBerry Passport is ugly or useful, as an investor the only real question you need to ask is … will this help BBRY stock, or hurt it?
I personally think the BlackBerry Passport is a square peg in a round hole (pardon the pun). I mean, rather than a 4.5-inch square screen, why not simply go whole hog and make a phablet to compete with the Samsung (SSNLF) Galaxy Note 3, which has a massive 5.7-inch screen measured diagonally. That dwarfs the diagonal 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5, and surely provides enough real estate to do just about anything.
And by the way, BlackBerry: Laptop and PC monitors have long been rectangular, so I’m not buying the idea that business applications demand a square form to work properly.
But we can debate taste until the cows come home.
More important to BBRY stock holders should be the notion of strategy — and on this front, it appears the BlackBerry Passport is moving the company in the right direction.
On its company blog, BBRY pitched the following uses (wording is verbatim from this post, written by Matt Young):
- For architects and mortgage brokers, imagine being able to look at full designs and schematics on the go, and still being able to handle piles of virtual paperwork with ease.
- In the healthcare field, picture being able to go through x-rays or medical documentation in the office with a patient, on a device that can maintain the necessary security standards for HIPAA compliance.
- In the area of finance, how about navigating your Web-based trading platform on your device? With enough screen real estate, you can clearly see the fluctuation in your stock and determine whether it’s time to sell.
- Writers will truly be unlocked with a navigable keyboard, while the large square screen enables faster content development and delivery. When you are looking to type stories or notes, your virtual keyboard doesn’t cover most of your screen.
This is where BBRY stock holders should be encouraged. BlackBerry has long pushed its tactile keyboards and secure messaging as a value-add for enterprise customers — and this blog post and reveal is clearly designed to get at professional smartphone users and not just teenagers looking to text and play games.
That’s good, because the brand appeal of the Apple iPhone coupled with the rise of cheap phones running Android software from Google (GOOG) has gutted BlackBerry’s consumer business.
Trying to offer an alternative to, say, the Microsoft (MSFT) Surface or Windows Phone seems a much more doable proposition.
Again, gadget junkies have their own quirks, and who knows whether the BlackBerry Passport will be a flop or a sensation.
But at least BBRY stock investors can take comfort in the approach to form and function here.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP.