Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A year Since BlackBerry Z10, a Low Cost BlackBerry Hinted

It is almost one year since the much hyped BlackBerry 10 platform was launched last year on January 30, along with a full touch based Z10, which somehow failed to gained any sort of momentum. BlackBerry Z10 was launched at a huge price of 45,000 rupees despite the companies bad state at that time and the aggressive pricing along with poor marketing led to massive stocks within the companies alley. The prices have now dropped well below 45% to 24,000 rupees in India but it hasn’t added to Z10’s sales figures.


Later came in the companies trademark keyboard based Q10, which everyone, including the company and rivals were expecting to turn the fortunes, but this one fell flat, even badly than the Z10. The BlackBerry Q5 couldn’t find any takers at 25K either. Then, while at the doors of being sold off, company silently launched its first ever phablet, BlackBerry Z30, which was somehow priced right, but too high for a struggling company.

Overall, the BlackBerry smartphones were the victim of:
1. Aggressive pricing, which could have been easily cut by 25-30% at the launch.
2. Poor marketing.

Anyhow, the company sailed through a difficult 2013 but not before Thorsten Heins had to step down, along with the 4500 job cuts in the company, a few OS updates, from Prem Watsa’s Fairfax deal which almost took the company private to John Chen being appointed as an interim CEO and carrying on the difficult job of sailing the disfigured company through another, even more challenging year. His first move in the handset arena was the recent deal of company with the Foxconn. BlackBerry was expected to launch 6 BB10 devices in 2013 but they reportedly cancelled 2 devices recently due to poor sales of other four.

The collaboration between the BlackBerry and Foxconn in which Foxconn will handle the hardware, design and the inventory while BlackBerry will provide the software and overall supervision. The first positive to it is that this phone is expected to cost under $200, which is below 15K in India. So, we now have a truly low cost BlackBerry 10 handset which we are all eagerly waiting for(well some might not be).

Code named as Jakarta and first scheduled for release in the Indonesian market, this would be an all-touch smartphone. Though he as not confirmed or denied anything yet. BlackBerry community website BlackBerry Empire revealed that the price tag would be around $200 too.

Though recently, he prices for BlackBerry Q5 have been reduced from 25,000 to 19,900 but that too failed to gain any attention from the market. BlackBerry, known for its supreme security features which made it a heart throb of many companies and status symbol about 4 years ago now finding it very hard even in front of medium ranged Android phone which are priced between 10k-20k. The gap is increasing day by day due to the massive app ecosystem of Android. BlackBerry is loosing the ground even from Windows where Nokia’s Lumia series is getting massive numbers.

Though this move might not be a killer as we have so little of BlackBerry Boys left who would want to gamble with these devices at a price where they have an option for an Android device, and with Micromax catching up with Samsung, BlackBerry will have a very stringent task ahead of itself. Moreover, it will have to catch up with Nokia’s low end Windows phone which are doing extremely well, specially the Lumia 520, Lumia 620 and Lumia 720.

BlackBerry getting along with Foxconn will ensure that company won’t be having any left over inventory issues and it will only focus on high-margin premium smartphones and on the enterprise in the software and services space. It indeed, is a very challenging year as BlackBerry has signed a 5 year contract with Foxconn.

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