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BlackBerry
BlackBerry's Real Roadmap: Emerging Markets, Lower End

By Barry Levine
April 2, 2013 9:57AM

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On Sunday, a roadmap presentation slide was leaked through the Twitter account @BB10Leaks. It indicated BlackBerry was intending to release, by year's end, a 10-inch tablet, a combined phone/tablet or "phablet," and another touchscreen smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard. On Monday, the Twitter account said the "leaked" BlackBerry slide was an April Fools' hoax.
 



With some bits of good news in his pocket, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has told analysts that BlackBerry 10 devices covering the low- and mid-range of the market are in the works, and that BB10 devices are heading to emerging markets. The developments are among the first indications of BlackBerry's next moves as it attempts to build on the release of its first two devices running the new operating system.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based firm is being watched closely as its new BlackBerry 10 line of products moves into the market. Those first two BB10 devices, the Z10 and the Q10, are now on sale or will soon be rolling out in various markets worldwide.

Heins has indicated that the company will be offering BlackBerry 7 devices in emerging markets, in addition to BB10 devices, and that both OSes will be offered "for a while." His remarks suggest how the company intends to handle the hand-off between the two product lines in those countries, which have a great deal of potential for the new BlackBerry products. The greatest growth for smartphones is taking place in emerging markets like Nigeria, where BlackBerry still has considerable market share.

Twitter 'Leak'

On Sunday, a roadmap presentation slide was leaked through a mysterious Twitter account called @BB10Leaks. It indicated the company was intending to release, by year's end, a 10-inch tablet, a combined phone/tablet or "phablet," and another touchscreen smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard. By Monday afternoon, following a day of speculation in the press about BlackBerry's apparent next products, the Twitter account announced that the "leaked" slide was an April Fools' hoax.

BlackBerry is probably not laughing at the prank, since a fair amount of attention has now been directed in the press toward what appeared to be the company's next BB10 products. The question is now out there: Is a BB10 tablet or smartphone/tablet in the works?

In 2012, company had been readying the release of a 10-inch BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, based on the company's QNX operating system, but those plans were canceled because of poor reception in the market for the 7-inch QNX-based tablet.

$94 Million in Profit

Late last week, the company reported quarterly earnings for Q4 2013 of $2.4 billion in revenue, with $94 million in profit -- an increase of $14 million over the preceding quarter. BlackBerry's stock has gained more than 20 percent in recent months, in anticipation of the company pulling itself out of its downward spiral.

While the profit increase was good news, the company also experienced a loss of 3 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, down to 76 million. A million of the 6 million BlackBerry devices sold in Q4 were the Z10, which does not include sales following the launches in two vital markets, the U.S. and Canada.

In addition to the new products, Heins has told news media that the company is developing various new services that could help its bottom line. These include a previously revealed money-transfer service through the BlackBerry Messenger service.
 

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