BlackBerry has revealed a new mid-tier BB10 handset that will be aimed at emerging markets and young consumers, with a UK launch set for July.
The Q5 is the second handset touting BlackBerry's next generation operating system with a Qwerty keyboard. The device was revealed by CEO Thorsten Heins at its BlackBerry World conference in Florida, where he also announced its popular BBM messaging service would go cross platform later this year.
In addition to the Qwerty keyboard, the Q5 boasts a 3.1 inch touchscreen and has the now familiar features of the BB10 operating system, such as the Peek and Flow method navigation, the Time Shift camera and Story Maker video, music and picture editor.
Thorsten Heins, president and CEO of BlackBerry, said: 'BlackBerry is excited to bring a new BlackBerry Qwerty smartphone, the BlackBerry Q5, to our customers in selected markets around world. The BlackBerry Q5 gives you the best of everything with its cutting-edge BlackBerry 10 functionality and a physical Qwerty keyboard. It is for youthful fans that are passionate, confident and bold, and it makes it easy for them to have fun, create, share and stay connected.'
The decision to make BBM cross-platform is one users had been demanding for some time. Users of Android devices with the Ice Cream Sandwich OS or above and iOS6 upwards will be able to download the app for free.
The move will put it head to head with popular cross platform OTT services such as WhatsApp.
The first version of the app will carry features such as multi-person chats, voice note sharing and BlackBerry Groups, where calendars, photos and files can be shared in groups of up to 30 people. It is hoping to bring voice and video chatting to the apps later this year. According to BlackBerry, it has more than 60 million active users per month, with users sending more than 10bn messages daily
Andrew Bocking, executive vice-president for software product management and ecosystem at BlackBerry, said: 'For BlackBerry, messaging and collaboration are inseparable from the mobile experience, and the time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service. BBM has always been one of the most engaging services for BlackBerry customers, enabling them to easily connect while maintaining a valued level of personal privacy. We’re excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community.'
Author: Graeme Neill