Is No One Looking Forward to BlackBerry’s New Phone?

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) has launched its new Q10 smartphone in India, looking to regain its former success by targeting one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world.

The Q10 has BlackBerry’s famous QWERTY keyboard, a feature that was not available on the Z10 smartphone, which was launched in India in February. The Q10 is priced at 44,990 rupees — the equivalent of $790 — and will be available in 1,000 outlets across 20 cities in the country.

Many are not feeling optimistic about the Q10′s chances. BlackBerry has struggled facing competition with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung smartphones. Some analysts are saying that the Q10 is being released too soon after Z10. Even if loyal BlackBerry customers, who are mostly business executives, want the QWERTY keyboard back, it’s unlikely that anyone who has already purchased a Z10 will want to pay to upgrade to the Q10 so quickly.

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A review from the Wall Street Journal said the new phone may be attractive to BlackBerry fans, but is unlikely to draw customers away from other smartphone brands, “For plenty of users who gave up on BlackBerry years ago, the Q10 probably won’t change their minds. But for those of us who love physical keyboards and want a keyboard paired with the full functionality of a serious smartphone, the Q10 delivers.” The review also cited problems running common apps like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Skype, although BlackBerry said it would work out the issues before the phone’s formal release. An impressively long battery life and the beloved QWERTY keyboard were listed as the phone’s best features.

BlackBerry has seen a steady decline in sales in India, just as the company has in the U.S. Samsung alone shipped 5.7 million handsets to India in the first three months of this year, a 64 percent increase versus the same period last year. BlackBerry has had a tough time keeping up with that kind of competition. BlackBerry handsets only made up 7.5 percent of the total 15.2 million phones shipped to India in 2012.

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Analysts say that in order to keep up with competition from Samsung, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), and Sony (NYSE:SNE) – the three companies leading the smartphone market in India — BlackBerry needs to start making less expensive phones that will attract new buyers, especially young people, rather than launching only expensive devices. BlackBerry has cut the price of its BlackBerry Curve smartphone and has started offering cheaper plans for Indian customers, but analysts don’t think those efforts will be enough to restore the company to its former glory.

Faisal Kawoosa, an analyst at CyberMedia Research, had this to say: “In the Indian market, Blackberry did well because of the youth, because of BBM [Blackberry messenger] at one point. If you are coming out with a handset which is 30,000 rupees, 40,000 rupees, then definitely that’s a problem.”

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