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Canadian smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry is one of the world’s most recognizable brands and enjoyed huge success globally in the late 00’s. Since then, its position as one of the leading smartphone companies came under attack from Samsung and US tech giant Apple with the introduction of the iPhone in 2008. However, it has survived a difficult number of years and has firmly re-established itself as a major player in the global smartphone industry, and still holds huge appeal with customers in a number of key markets worldwide.

BlackBerry’s latest premium flagship device is the Key2 and that has been well received by smartphone users since being launched in August of this year. At GITEX Technology Week, Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with Mike Al Mefleh, who is regional director for BlackBerry in the Middle East.

Under his dynamic leadership and vision, BlackBerry has enjoyed phenomenal growth over the last number of years and the Middle East is now one of the Canadian mobile company’s biggest markets.

In a fascinating interview the charismatic regional director at Blackberry told us why he felt the Key2 LE would be a massive success, and outlined the key strategic pillars that differentiate BlackBerry from other mobile manufacturers.

Can you tell us what BlackBerry is showcasing here at GITEX Technology Week?

We’re announcing the launch of our new product here at GITEX Technology Week which is called Key2 LE. This is an extension to a product we launched in August, which was called Key2. Key2 is a new innovation from BlackBerry and TCL Communication. At BlackBerry, we strategically focus on three key pillars which are reliability, productivity and customer experience.

BlackBerry is fabled for the keyboard experience it provides to its customers. The new Key2 device doesn’t have the traditional keyboard typing, as we’ve done a lot of work as part of our efforts to enhance the keyboard by injecting touch capabilities to it. We have also introduced a new key which we call the ‘speed key’. This enables you to move between applications without returning to your home screen. We’re continuing to innovate all the time in order to ensure that the productivity element is reaching our customers which enhances their experiences with the device.

In addition to this, we’ve also introduced what we call ‘dual-everything’ to the Key2 device. You have a dual sim, dual camera and a dual app. For example, you can have a dual WhatsApp, which can allow you to have one that can be used for work purposes and the other can be for personal use. We’ve also focused a lot on the battery life of our devices. We know from global research that people are spending more and more time on their smartphones, and having a strong battery life is critical for them. Our devices can last for well over a day without needing charged regardless of how much time you spend on your smartphone. We tested this is on a power-user and developed a battery around that research.

BlackBerry is known for its security and privacy capabilities. Can you tell me about some of the new security features and applications you’ve added to the Key2?

BlackBerry is recognized globally for its outstanding security and privacy, and we’ve got the most secure Android smartphone that is currently on the market. We’re not reactive in terms of security, like some of our competitors are. We’re very proactive in terms of building and designing security features within our smartphones. In addition to this, BlackBerry is one of the few smartphone manufacturers that send security badges on a monthly basis.

One example of how we have enhanced our security capabilities is through a new feature called ‘The Locker’. The Locker enables you to take a picture or a video and create a file which you can place on a private space on your device and the only way to access them is through finger authentication. That data doesn’t get backed up by the cloud, it remains on the device. We’ve also got an application on all of our devices called DTEK, which is a security dashboard that scans through all the applications on your device. It updates you frequently to let you know how secure the device is.

How has the Key2 performed since its introduction to the market, and are you confident that the Key2 LE will resonate with smartphones users? 

The Key2 is a true smartphone. It has a lot of intelligence behind it from a productivity, reliability and privacy and security perspective, and we feel this offers unrivalled experiences for consumers. Regardless of whether their business users or consumers, they’re all going to be accessing Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and our device makes that sort of interactivity between all these applications more accessible.

We introduced the Key2 to the market in August, and it has really resonated well with our customer base. The silver KEY2 is retailing at AED2399 and the black Key2 is retailing at AED2699 and both include VAT. These devices are high-end premium flagship smartphones. With the Key2, you’re getting a device that gives you full productivity, security, reliability, battery life and has a lot of room for internal data storage. We’re well-positioned in the market and we’ve got a lot of positive feedback so far regarding the Key2 and we’re expecting the same for the Key2 LE.

We’ve partnered with Etisalat, who are the largest operator in the UAE, and we’re offering Etisalat customers the opportunity to avail of some great deals with BlackBerry. I’m really excited about the Key2 LE and I think it’s going to have a seismic impact on the smartphone market. The Key2 LE retails at AED1799 and it’s lighter than the Key2 and is also slightly more affordable. We’ve give them different price options that fits into their budget, but there’s no compromise on the security and privacy across all our smartphones.

BlackBerry is one of the world’s most recognized brands, but what do you think is that differentiates the company from its competitors?

I think what differentiates us from our competitors is what I already mentioned is our three key pillars, which are reliability, productivity and security and privacy. Security and privacy are at the very core of what we offer at BlackBerry and are a key differentiator for us as we feel that we do security and privacy better than any other vendor in the world. We offer enhanced experiences through our smartphones through our approach of continuous innovation. Our customers know that we truly care about their experiences and that with all our smartphones we cater to their needs so they have a device which can empower them.

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