BlackBerry is bringing forward the launch of its entry level BB10 devices, as it looks to build upon its surprise quarterly profits.
O2 said the manufacturer will launch its Q10 handset, which features the traditional Qwerty keyboard, into the UK next month. Retailers believe the device will prove more popular than the touch-screen Z10 that went on sale in January. It has largely been bought by enterprise customers, rather than consumers.
Originally BlackBerry said it would launch upper and mid-tier devices during 2013, as it bids to claw back years of lost market share. Europe MD Stephen Bates told Mobile in January that an entry level device would come to market in 2014. Retail sources indictated to Mobile they were disappointed by this, as BlackBerry’s entry level prepay devices proved popular, particularly among young people.
Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry CEO, said cheaper devices would now hit the market during 2013. He said: ‘I would like to emphasise that BlackBerry 10 has a phased rollout, and will continue over the next several quarters with various devices and all the major carriers. Lower-cost versions of BlackBerry 10 for other global markets will also be launched later this year.’
BlackBerry lost three million subscribers during its fourth quarter trading, for the three months until 2 March. Heins put this down to the declining prepay market and said what was critical was the ‘dollar value’ of subscribers. Sales fell by 2% to $2.7bn quarter on quarter, but profits increased during the same period from $14m to $94m. It was bolstered by the higher margins of its new BB10 handsets. In the UK, sales grew by 13% quarter on quarter to approximately £350m, which is 13% of BlackBerry’s total sales.
Author: Graeme Neill