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BlackBerry ready to catch second wind with BB10 smartphones

Posted: 04 Feb 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Q10? Z10? smartphones? QWERTY keyboard?

Just as BlackBerry busted out its Z10 and Q10 smartphones which run on the company's new BB10 operating system, the whole world started talking about how the new smartphones didn't excite analysts at Wall Street.

BlackBerry's Z10 phone looks similar to Apple's iPhone 5, or any other new smartphone model. It features an 8- megapixel camera and high-definition video. BlackBerry's Q10's touch screen is significantly smaller, so that it allows space for a physical QWERTY keyboard. It looks similar to recent BlackBerry Bold models. (see RIM preps the BlackBerry 10 for smartphone battle)

The announcement, indeed, did not move the needle for the Canadian company. The company's Nasdaq-listed shares closed down 12 per cent Wednesday at $13.78.

Reuters reported that at least three financial analysts have downgraded the company's stock.

In an era when a company's (and/or a technology's) worth is often measured by "like" tags from the financial community, I shouldn't be surprised that the general public already seems to agree that BB10!and by extension the whole BlackBerry brand!is DOA.

Maybe so. But, just for the heck of it, let's consider exactly what in the new Blackberry devices disappointed the financial community. Specifically, the two biggies were pricing and product delay.

Here are the facts we know as of Thursday morning: Verizon Wireless said it would sell the Z10 for $199 with a two-year contract, or $149 with a three-year contract in the United States. Verizon will offer both Q10 and Z10 on its 4G LTE network. But the company did not announce pricing for Q10.

Sprint is only planning to carry the keyboard-equipped Q10 at this time, with no immediate plans to carry the touch-screen Z10 device. T-Mobile for now is said to be just planning to carry the touch-screen Z10. AT&T said that it will offer the Z10 and the Q10.

The point here is that no one has any information as to how much the keyboard-equipped Q10 is going to cost; nor how U.S. carriers other than Verizon are going to price either Z10 or Q10, let alone how much they will eventually cost in the "emerging markets."

But apparently it's already been determined that $199 for Z10 is too expensive. And the financial analysts, according to Reuters, noted that "average sales prices might be too high for many emerging market users." They also raised questions about how quickly businesses would adopt the new devices.

Ability to run mutliple kernels
The financial community didn't like what they heard about the launch date for the devices in the U.S., either. They won't be available until March.

But again, seriously, what "material" difference does that make? After all, BlackBerry's Z10 touchscreen device will be the first of the two models to hit the market, with a rollout that already started in Britain Wednesday.

I think it's time for the tech community!not the financial community!to rise up and give credit where the credit due. I am actually pretty impressed with the fact that BB10's ability to run multiple kernels.

I firmly believe that the enterprise market will be the key to BlackBerry's survival. That market, in my opinion, hasn't spoken yet. Who in the enterprise market wouldn't like BB10's capability to separate data from enterprise and consumer in a phone?

As Richard Windsor at Radio Free Mobile put it, "Data from the enterprise and consumer are presented to the user together in the hub. But with enterprise on a totally separate kernel, the security and control requirements of corporates have been nicely addressed."

As Windsor correctly points out, the whole point of BlackBerry's acquisition of QNX in 2010 resides in QNX's feature of running multiple kernels.

When I visit China and find a lot of 8-inch screen smartphones popping up everywhere!both branded and non-branded!I'm overwhelmed with the energy and ambition of rising Chinese OEMs. They're there to satisfy the aspirational goals among Chinese consumers to "own a smartphone." Some of those OEMs!especially well-known Chinese brands like Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE!also nurture the lofty goal of expanding their presence into the United States. While I admire their ambition, I can't help thinking that none of those brands is doing anything as technologically "innovative" as BlackBerry.

As the Android market turns into a giant playground for me-too products!with Samsung in charge!could it be such a bad development for another competitor to emerge?

Couldn't we give BlackBerry the benefit of a few months' doubt, just to see how far their innovative software products might go in the global market?

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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