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TMCNet:  BlackBerry's new phone goes for broke

[April 03, 2013]

BlackBerry's new phone goes for broke

Apr 03, 2013 (Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- BlackBerry, the company formerly known as Research in Motion, is betting its future on a new operating system in the face of a do-or-die situation.

The Canadian handset maker on Tuesday unveiled its all-new BlackBerry Z10 model in Thailand, setting an ambitious goal of overtaking Samsung and Apple for smartphone leadership in Thailand by 2016.

"We believe we have a chance of getting back to where we were, helped by our new, innovative phone features," said Benoit Nalin, the country director for Thailand and Vietnam.

BlackBerry has set its biggest marketing budget ever for a product roll-out in Thailand, as the country is a strategic hot spot in Southeast Asia.

The Z10, BlackBerry's first touch-screen smartphone, runs the new BB10 operating system. It is equipped with a 1.5-gigahertz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM.

The phone will go on sale in Thailand this month for 20,900 baht, roughly the same price as Apple's iPhone 5 and Samsung's Galaxy S III.

"After a couple of weeks from the launch of the Z10 model globally, the BB10-powered handset got a positive response from users, with over 1 million units shipped," said Mr Nalin.

He said the BB10 OS was designed to support the company's future growth in smartphones over the next decade.

BlackBerry plans to release a series of BB10-powered phones for the mid- and low-tier markets this year.

The company is also preparing to launch a high-end qwerty keyboard smartphone, the Q10, worldwide this month and in Thailand by June.

Mr Nalin acknowledged that competition in the Thai smartphone market, dominated by Apple and Samsung, is intensifying.

BlackBerry is cooperating with the country's big-three mobile operators on bundled data tariffs to expand the company's retail user base.

Mr Nalin said BlackBerry is preparing to open its own "experience centre" in Siam Center this month to demonstrate its products.

"We plan to open three centres this year," he said.

BlackBerry will continue production of its existing BB7-powered handsets, focusing on the mass market upcountry.

BB7 will accommodate expected demand from existing second-generation (2G) mobile users shifting to 3G mobile services, with handsets priced at 5,000 to 6,000 baht.

Sales of smartphones in Thailand could reach 7 million units this year, fuelled by the low- and high-end segments, said Mr Nalin.

BlackBerry is adding local apps to the existing 40 in its BlackBerry App World storefront.

By comparison, there are 100,000 apps available globally.

Jarit Sidhu, an industry analyst at International Data Corporation (Thailand), said it will be an uphill task for BlackBerry to vie for leadership in the Thai market, where Samsung and Apple have rocketed ahead in terms of both market share and sales.

___ (c)2013 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand) Visit the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand) at www.bangkokpost.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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