BlackBerry Live 2013: Blackberry launches Q5 device

The mobile manufacturer launches a new handset based on the BlackBerry 10 operating system, aimed at emerging markets

BlackBerry today launched the Q5, the third handset to sit on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

The mid-range device was unveiled by CEO, Thorsten Heins at BlackBerry Live in Orlando, Florida. Heins said the QWERTY –touting handset was aimed at users in emerging markets who didn’t have a computer, but did want a smartphone.

The executive said BlackBerry was the “premier mobile platform for those ‘mobile first’ consumers and business users worldwide.”

Quoting IDC figures, Heins claimed by 2015, the global mobile workforce will reach 1.3bn people - 37% of the workforce on the planet. “We need to build for mobile first,” he said.

“The experience on a mobile device needs to be purpose built for mobile. That’s why we built BlackBerry 10 specifically for mobile computing from the ground up. We didn’t worry about the desktop, because we don’t serve that market. We are the original mobile first.”

The Q5 is the third device to be launched on Blackberry’s new operating system, BB10, which will receive a software update to 10.1 this week in the UK.

"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," said Adam Leach, principal device and platforms analyst at Ovum. "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."

Heins told Computer Weekly: “The [mid-range] Curve was a hugely successful product, it really helped us to get into Asia and Pakistan, but those countries are also developing, they’re not standing still and what they’re doing with their devices demands higher performance and that’s why we launched BlackBerry 10 and we’re bringing it to those markets at an affordable price point.

“Don’t underestimate the success of BB7 it’s still in those markets and it’s still a very formidable smartphone but now we’re taking it to the next level, and we’re transforming the portfolio over time to provide everybody with the experience of a BlackBerry 10," he said.

BlackBerry’s new BlackBerry10 operating system was launched in January, when the company decided to drop its Research In Motion brand. 

As RIM, the Canadian company saw its profits fall as competitors like Apple and Samsung won over its customers. In the third quarter of 2012, net profit was just $9m, down from $235m in the previous quarter and $265m from 12 months before.

Following the launch of the new software, BlackBerry introduced its first touchscreen-only handset, the high-end BlackBerry Z10, as well as a more traditional QWERTY Q10 model a few months later.

The final quarter of BlackBerry’s fiscal year 2013 saw the firm ship one million of its new Z10 devices. Revenues fell by $49m sequentially to approximately $2.7bn, however this figure dropped significantly year-on-year from the $4.2bn it reported in the fourth quarter of 2012.

BlackBerry revealed it had shipped six million smartphones during the three-month period to 2 March 2013, of which one million were running its new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

The number equals that of Nokia’s Lumia products, which sold just over one million in their launch quarter (Q4 2011), but fell far behind the likes of Samsung, which saw nine million of its Galaxy S3 devices sold on pre-order alone.

The new Q5 device is BlackBerry’s assault into the emerging market armed with BB10, an area flooded with lower-end devices from companies such as ZTE and Huawei.

The Q5 will be rolled out in the summer, available in red, black, white and pink.

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