Has beleaguered phone maker BlackBerry (Nasdaq: BBRY) found new life with a new, less expensive phone targeted at emerging markets?
Research firm Ovum thinks so.
BlackBerry (Nasdaq: BBRY) unveiled the lower-cost BlackBerry Q5 at a conference in Orlando, Fla.
Said Adam Leach, principal device and platforms analyst at Ovum:
“The Q5 could be a very significant device for the company, as there is a significant opportunity for high-quality low-cost smartphones. Emerging markets accounted for roughly 17 percent of the nearly 450 million smartphone shipments globally in 2011 and Ovum projects that emerging markets will account for nearly 40 percent of the 1.7 billion smartphone devices shipped globally in 2017.
“Blackberry is clearly aiming to replicate the success of the Blackberry Curve in emerging markets, doing so will help the company establish the Blackberry 10 platform in the market. However, Blackberry has significant competition in this area with a number of handset manufacturers championing an array of low-cost Android devices as well as Nokia’s Asha 501.
“The crucial aspect of the Q5 launch will be its price and if Blackberry can address the sub-$100 smartphone opportunity.”
CEO Thorsten Heins said that the Q5 device will be available this summer. It is the firm’s third smartphone to run the new BlackBerry 10 system. It will have a physical keyboard.
Heins also said the new BlackBerry 10.1 operating system will roll out today, featuring a Skype phone application. The Q5 will be available in emerging markets beginning in July.
“We have reached solid ground with this company,” Heins told software developers, suppliers and corporate customers at the BlackBerry Live event. “Not only are we still here, we’re firing on all cylinders.”
Heins spoke at the company’s annual three-day conference.
The BlackBerry, pioneered in 1999, had been the dominant smartphone for on-the-go business people and consumers before the iPhone debuted in 2007 and showed that phones can handle much more than email and calls. RIM faced numerous delays modernizing its operating system.
BlackBerry operates a research and development office in the Triangle.