BlackBerry has been trying hard to make its name commonplace in the smartphone market, and a huge part of that was a deal with TCL that brought us the keyboard-toting BlackBerry Keyone. Personally, I love the Keyone, but I made it clear in my review that it wasn’t for everyone. Thus, the sales have been pretty minimal, but the company says it’s pretty happy with that.

In all of 2017, BlackBerry apparently sold just 850,000 units of its flagship Keyone. That number comes courtesy of IDC’s Francisco Jeronimo who also brought us numbers on Essential Phone and Google Pixel sales earlier this month. That’s not a huge number, but it’s also not too bad considering we’re talking about a phone in 2017 that has a physical keyboard.

According to BlackBerry Mobile senior management talking to The Verge, however, the company is very content with those numbers, considering the phone an “unqualified success.” One major reason for this is how the company is looking at the Keyone. It’s not just considering actual sales as a success, but also “channel presence,” meaning having the phone available in most direct sales channels.

The Verge further notes that BlackBerry says a big roadblock that remains is the operating system. Many potential customers didn’t get the note that the Keyone and BlackBerry’s other smartphones are now running Android, not the company’s own OS. Thus, the company has to spend time and resources educating its customers on this fact.

Coming off of this “success,” it seems BlackBerry has fairly big plans for the next few years. Speaking to journalists at MWC this week (via CNET), an executive mentioned that BlackBerry hopes to capture between 3% and 5% of the premium smartphone market.

It doesn’t have to be a niche business. I would not be satisfied with market share in premium (phones) that is sub-1 percent forever.

According to an analyst at Counterpoint Research, BlackBerry would need to sell around 10 million phones a year to reach that goal, so it’s clearly a long way off. That is, if it ever happens at all…

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Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

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