BlackBerry could return to the tablet market as part of its BB10 push, with its UK managing director saying it is watching the market closely.
The manufacturer launched its Q10 device last week, the first of its next generation BB10 portfolio touting the physical Qwerty keyboard that drove sales of legacy BlackBerry devices. It launched its latest device exclusively through Selfridges, with the handset selling out its initial supply within hours. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is aiming high with sales, predicting the handset will shift ‘tens of millions of units’.
BlackBerry will focus on its installed base of UK users in its marketing of the Q10. It has an installed base of 8 million users and the launch will be much more targeted than the broad launch of the touchscreen Z10 handset in January. UK managing director Rob Orr said: ‘We are being more focused on our timings and our activity to make sure we maximise cut through. There’s pent up demand for this device in business. We want to focus on serving that first. With the Z10, that was a different set of marketing tools that was telling people “we are here”. We’ve done that job and one of the effects of that was people asking us “where is the physical keyboard?”.’
He shrugged off fears that the Q10 would be subject to the discounting that came after the Z10’s launch. He said: ‘We are not concerned about the price movements in the UK market. If you look at the retailers and networks’ commercial model, the norm is for pricing to flex based on how their economics work in terms of acquiring inventory, demand and generating interest in store.’
The Q10 is the second of six BlackBerry device launches in 2013. However, it has stayed silent about the potential of tablets. Its PlayBooks, which were launched in 2011, were criticised at launch and BlackBerry wrote off hundreds of millions of dollars on its stock holdings. When asked if the manufacturer was planning a tablet running BB10, Orr said: ‘I’m not going to get into specifics about the roadmap but BB10 was the architecture for mobile computing. It’s meeting the needs of its customers and we will make decisions that make sense to what consumers need and what makes sense to us as a business. We are watching [the tablet market] closely and will continue to do so.’
He added: ‘The mobile computing market is a huge opportunity for sure and that opportunity will take many different forms.’
However, in the longer term, BlackBerry’s looking to smartphones, rather than tablets, for growth. CEO Heins said this week there would not be a reason to have a tablet in five years.
Author: Graeme Neill