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BlackBerry Ltd. chairman and CEO John Chen gestures during the BlackBerry Security Summit in New York, July 29, 2014.MIKE SEGAR/Reuters

BlackBerry Ltd.'s smartphone shipments grew 15 per cent in the second quarter from the prior period, recording their first sequential gain in a year as chief executive oficer John Chen's turnaround plan takes hold.

BlackBerry shipped 1.5 million units, research firm IDC said in a statement, compared with 1.3 million in the first quarter. The company's share of the global smartphone market held steady at 0.5 per cent as the overall market grew, IDC said.

Under Chen, BlackBerry has shifted its focus from consumer phones to selling software-based services to businesses and governments. Chen said in July he would begin hiring new employees, marking the end of a restructuring phase that eliminated about a third of the workforce.

The company's smartphone business is still much diminished, with shipments down 78 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to IDC. Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry hasn't increased its market share since the third quarter of 2009, Ramon Llamas, an analyst with IDC, said in an e-mail.

BlackBerry last made a sequential gain in smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2013, the first full quarter of sales for its BlackBerry 10 operating system. Ultimately, the new software failed to lure back enough users who had already switched in droves to devices by Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Chen was hired in November to reverse the company's fortunes after a failed buyout.

To boost smartphone sales by appealing to business users, BlackBerry is set to release the ultrawide Passport and keyboard-equipped Classic later this year. In December, the company signed a five-year deal to outsource the manufacturing of its devices to Foxconn Technology Group, an Apple supplier and the world's largest manufacturer of electronic products.

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