BlackBerry intends launching a cheaper, sub-US$200 BlackBerry 10 device in South Africa, the Z3 — code-named Jakarta — as it moves to defend its market share in developing economies.
The device, developed for the Indonesian market, where the BlackBerry brand is strong, but where it has lost significant market share in the past year, is expected to cost as little as $150 (about R1 600 at the current exchange rate) when it goes on sale sometime after April.
That price will put it in the same price range as the entry level Curve devices that run the older BlackBerry 7 operating system. BlackBerry must be hoping the cheaper handset will stop it haemorrhaging market share to cheaper smartphone devices powered by Android.
The Z3, which is being made by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn, will be launched in Indonesia in April, after which it will be offered in various other markets in Southeast Asia. BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirms that the product will also be launched in South Africa.
“This will be one of the target markets with the Z3. I have to make sure it has right frequency bands [but] it should be okay. I don’t know if it will come in April, but it will be coming after that,” says Chen.
The 3G device will also be offered in a 4G/LTE version in time.
Chen admits that BlackBerry has lost market share in the Indonesian market, in part because the company opened its popular BBM chat platform to Android and iPhone users and in part because its devices were “a little too pricey”.
“You will see when it comes out it will have some BBM features that will help the country’s market share comeback,” he says.
It’s been reported that the Z3 will have a 5-inch LCD display with a resolution of 540×960 pixels and that it will shop with 1,5GB of RAM and 8GB of flash storage. It’s said it has a 1,2GHz dual-core processor, 2 650mAh battery, and 5-megapixel main camera with autofocus.
At the same time, BlackBerry has revealed plans to offer a new high-end, keyboard-based phone called the Q20, the successor to last year’s Q10 device. The BlackBerry 10-powered phone will be released before the end of the year, according to Chen.
The Q20 will feature BlackBerry’s familiar “Menu”, “Back”, “Send” and “End” buttons and an integrated trackpad. Chen says he prefers the name “BlackBerry Classic” for the product as it resembles the company’s traditional keyboard-based products. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media