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BlackBerry Q5 Smartphone Targets Emerging Markets
BlackBerry Q5 Smartphone Targets Emerging Markets

By Jennifer LeClaire
May 15, 2013 10:14AM

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The BlackBerry Q5 features a classic BlackBerry keyboard but with "discrete keys." The keyboard has been re-engineered to help type accurately, with the least amount of effort. The keyboard also offers Instant Action shortcuts to perform tasks faster. "We fully expect to see BlackBerry smartphone market share begin rising again," said analyst Carl Howe.

BlackBerry is making some aggressive moves, with major announcements this week in particular at the BlackBerry Live event in Orlando, Florida. Beyond opening up BlackBerry Messenger to competing platforms, the company is also looking to make market impacts with a new device. The company rolled out the BlackBerry Q5 for select markets as the brand continues to evolve in a new era of mobility.

The BlackBerry Q5 smartphone features a QWERTY keyboard with what the company calls "discrete keys." The phone carries what BlackBerry hopes the market will perceive as a youthful design with a focus on a fast, effortless experience.

Thorsten Heins, the president and CEO of BlackBerry who recently came under fire for suggesting there won't be a market for tablets within five years and that his company will lead the market by then, is promising "the best of everything" with the Q5. He said the device aims at "youthful fans that are passionate, confident and bold, and it makes it easy for them to have fun, create, share and stay connected."

Best of Both Worlds?

There's no lack of hype around the latest BlackBerry smartphone. But when you cut through all the fancy language, you do find some interesting features. One of the most interesting aspects of the Q5 is the evolution of the keyboard.

The Q5 features a classic BlackBerry keyboard with "discrete keys." That means the keyboard has been re-engineered to help type fast, accurately and with the least amount of effort. The keyboard also offers Instant Action shortcuts to help perform tasks faster. And by "best of everything," Heins was pointing to a keyboard that offers the classic QWERTY keys and a 3.1-inch touchscreen for everything else.

BlackBerry's latest smartphone model also includes Time Shift mode, which lets you take photos, then create and share a story by weaving together photos, videos and music into a movie with BlackBerry Story Maker. You can also switch your BBM chat to a BBM Video conversation, and share your screen.

BlackBerry's Secret Weapon

We caught up with Carl Howe, vice president of Research and Data Services at Yankee Group, to get his take on the new phone. Speaking with us from the BlackBerry Live event in Orlando, he said the most telling indication of BlackBerry's return is this announcement of the low-cost Q5 QWERTY phone for emerging markets.

"For years, the low-cost but profitable Curve has been BlackBerry's secret weapon in winning over emerging market customers. Introducing a BB10 successor to the Curve will boost BlackBerry's manufacturing volume while bolstering BlackBerry as an aspirational consumer brand," he said.

"Assuming the company delivers on the promise of shipping Q5s this summer, we fully expect to see BlackBerry smartphone market share begin rising again by the end of the year. And best of all, a low-cost BlackBerry addresses a customer segment where Apple's iPhone doesn't compete -- yet."

The BlackBerry Q5 smartphone will be available in select markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia (including the Asia Pacific region), and Latin America. BlackBerry expects to begin shipping the devices in July. Pricing has not yet been announced.

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