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BlackBerry CEO on the new BlackBerry Classic and the need to be "cooler"

Blackberry once dominated the smartphone market, but now the company is fighting to regain popularity
Blackberry CEO on new smartphone, winning back customers 05:07

BlackBerry CEO John Chen is "not nervous" about his company's flagging sales. Chen appeared on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday to unveil the new BlackBerry Classic and lay out his optimistic vision for the near future.

When he joined BlackBerry 13 months ago, the company was losing billions of dollars, he said. They saw a $207 million net loss in the second quarter of this year. Third quarter results will be released Friday, and though Chen wouldn't disclose details, he allowed that "our loss is quite a bit."

He said the he has made a commitment to break even in cash flow this year and expects the company to be making money in fiscal year 2016.

Part of that success will need to come from the device maker's latest release, the BlackBerry Classic. The $449 smartphone became available online Wednesday and will begin shipping Dec. 31. It's a return to the design and interface that made BlackBerry so successful in years past, hence the name. Most crucial: it features a physical keyboard and the much-loved optical track pad for onscreen navigation.

Chen said that in the past year he has spoken to hundreds of customers around the world and he heard the same thing time and time again: "They wanted the track pad back."

"We knew that taking it away in the previous iteration hurt us quite a bit in the market," he continued. "Our diehard fans came back and said, 'You gotta put that back or I'm moving, I'm leaving you.'"

For now, Chen's strategy is to focus on enterprise customers -- business, government and healthcare -- which make up most of the company's base. BlackBerry is popular with corporations and the Pentagon because of its security and privacy capabilities, which Chen said will continue to be top priority in the near term.

In the next generation it will put greater emphasis on consumer-friendly features to gain back customers to add to its current 40 to 45 million subscribers, most of whom are bankers, lawyers or government employees.

"Over time I have to solve another problem. People need to think this is a cooler phone," Chen said. "We'll probably come out with 10 different colors," he quipped.

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