BlackBerry’s UK arm insisted that it would continue to develop consumer-friendly products in the face of plunging revenue, extensive job cuts, and a possible £3bn takeover by fellow Canadian organisation Fairfax financial.
The manufacturer’s new flagship handset, the touchscreen Z30 (pictured), was launched last week and BlackBerry UK’s senior director of retail and distribution, Jonathan Young, remained optimistic despite experts claiming rivals like Samsung were ‘going for the jugular’.
Talking at the Z30 product launch in London’s Selfridges, he told Mobile: ‘There will be new products going out from us. We’re planning to launch new handsets and new variations this year and in 2014. A white version of the Z30 will be revealed later this year, although availability is yet to be confirmed as we’re still in negotiations with retailers.’
The 4G-ready smartphone runs the 10.2 version of BB10, which features a redesigned BlackBerry Hub and the ability to simultaneously run BlackBerry Messenger with other applications.
While it is thought the manufacturer may have to lean towards an enterprise focus due to desperately declining market share, Young said BlackBerry’s relationship with consumer retailers like Carphone Warehouse was still a key part of the strategy.
He added: ‘I look after the retail side of the business, and I’ve seen journalists, bloggers and analysts talk about us moving out of the consumer market, which is absolutely untrue. We term consumers as ‘prosumers’, because our consumers are the people who want to connect daily. 80% of our business in the UK is consumer driven.’
Selfridges broke records when stocking BlackBerry’s previous flagship, the Z10, selling 10,000 units of the device. The store’s buying manager for technology and books, Richard Jones, told Mobile: ‘We put this deal in place to stock the Z30 after the success of the Z10, and we’re in talks to continue the partnership with new products. It’s a brand we believe in.’
However, last month brought about a series of events which may spell the eventual demise of the manufacturer. BlackBerry announced it was to relinquish 40% of its worldwide workforce, with 4,500 positions under threat. A mass employee restructure began earlier in the summer with 250 members of staff laid off at BlackBerry’s product testing facility, while 100 more jobs were cut a month later at its HQ in Waterloo, Ontario. News surfaced soon after about Fairfax submitting a bid to buy the manufacturer for $4.7bn (£3bn), although it was valued at more than seven times that amount five years ago, compounding the company’s disastrous fall from grace. BlackBerry also posted a significant quarterly loss of $965m after selling only 5.9 million handsets in Q2, but Young was unwilling to deviate from talking about product information.
Industry analyst Richard Windsor said: ‘BlackBerry has announced it is downsizing its portfolio from six models to four and it is going to focus on enterprise and prosumer while abandoning the consumer. This conflicts with today’s commentary from the UK business which conveys a company in all sorts of chaos. In the enterprise market Samsung has released 1,000 apps to make it more appealing to the enterprise. Rivals can see the jugular, and now they’re going for it.’
Author: Matthew Campelli