Can BlackBerry’s Q10 Compete with Apple and Google?

BlackBerry Q10 QWERTY

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) appears to be on track to make gains against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the smartphone market. Bloomberg reports that BlackBerry is likely to break its streak of five straight quarters of declining smartphone shipments.

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In the three months ending with May, BlackBerry likely delivered 7.7 million smartphones to consumers, nearly 2 million more units than the previous quarter. Analysts believe the surge in shipments is due to BlackBerry’s new models — the Z10 and the Q10.

While the touch-screen Z10 is getting mixed reviews, demand for the Q10 — which sports a physical keyboard — may be the reason for BlackBerry’s recent success. The Q10 costs $199.99 and has a design based on the classic, and popular, Bold line of BlackBerry. In a move signaling its strategy to target the die-hard users of its phones, BlackBerry is likely banking on appealing to the users accustomed to its specific phone style rather than trying to wage a head-on battle with Apple’s iPhones and Google Android based phones — both of which have come to dominate the touch-screen smartphone.

Since the target audience for BlackBerry Bolds is different, the strategy might just work out. “The die-hard BlackBerry installed base of 76 million subscribers loyal to the keyboard presents a strong upgrade opportunity,” Maynard Um, a Wells Fargo & Co. analyst, said.

The new phone strategy comes after Chief Executive Thorsten Heins took over in January 2012. Heins hired new sales, marketing, and legal chiefs while eliminating one billion dollars in operating costs — a feat he accomplished by cutting 6 of 10 manufacturing sites, cutting 5,000 jobs, and selling one of the two corporate jets.

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Still, BlackBerry has a long way to go to become a prominent player in the smartphone landscape again. BlackBerry’s global market share was 2.9 percent last quarter, down from 6.4 percent a year earlier — Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems account for a combined 92 percent of the market share. Even Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8 platform, which has had problems of its own, has overtaken BlackBerry with a market share of 3.2 percent.

At this point, BlackBerry’s goal is to simply take back the number three spot in the smartphone market share. With the Q10′s appeal to a fan base not looking for radical change, that goal might be attainable.

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