will this week launch a new budget handset in Indonesia, one of its
last bastions, a major step in the ailing smartphone maker's fightback
against titans Samsung and Apple.
The BlackBerry Z3, which is designed for
Indonesia but will likely be introduced in other emerging markets later,
is the first new BlackBerry phone since chief executive John Chen took
the helm of the crisis-hit company in November.
The handset is
also the first to be produced from the Canadian firm's partnership with
Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn, which makes gadgets for Apple, and is a
key test of whether the new strategy will work.
believes the device will be a hit in Indonesia, where many have remained
loyal to BlackBerry, with a spokesman saying that "this product will
deliver something that should resonate with consumers".
analysts believe it may already be too late for a comeback by the
company that pioneered modern smartphone culture but has been unable to
keep up with competition from Apple's iPhone and handsets using the
Google Android operating system.
Recent years have been dismal for BlackBerry, and it has suffered heavy losses and slashed thousands of jobs.
company even put itself up for sale last year but abandoned hopes of
finding a buyer several months later, and ousted chief executive
Since Chen took over, there have been small signs
of improvement. The company reported a loss of $423 million in the three
months to March 1, which was not as bad as had been feared.
part of its turnaround strategy, the smartphone maker announced the
tie-up with Foxconn in December, which involves transferring to the
Taiwan company manufacturing and inventory management, while allowing
BlackBerry to focus on software and services.
chosen to launch its first new phone from the partnership in Indonesia,
Southeast Asia's biggest economy with legions of social media-mad young
consumers, where its devices remain popular but it has nevertheless lost
ground in recent years.
Low retail price
The phone has a
five inch (13 centimetre) touchscreen, like most of BlackBerry's newest
handsets which do not have the physical keyboards of the older devices.
is designed specifically with Indonesian consumers in mind. The BBM
messaging service -- wildly popular in Indonesia -- comes loaded with
pictures of local cartoon characters for users to send to one another.
There is also a limited edition with "Jakarta" engraved on it.
BlackBerry believes the low price - it will retail for around $200 - will be a particular selling point.
phones released on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system in Indonesia
were more expensive, such as the Z10 which sold for around $700, and
received only a lukewarm response.
Online pre-orders, which began on April 28, have been healthy, according to retailers.
response is positive and hundreds of units were sold in less than a
week after the pre-order started," said an employee at vendor Global
Teleshop, who declined to be identified.
The phone will be launched on Tuesday in Jakarta and will go on sale in the following days.
has refused to say which emerging markets it might take the phone to
next, but analysts speculated it would likely be others in Southeast
But even the picture in Indonesia, one of the company's
healthiest markets, is increasingly dire and the Z3 may be too little
too late, analysts warn.
"The launch of this device is really
BlackBerry's final stand in the Indonesian market," Sudev Bangah from
telecoms consultancy IDC told AFP.
IDC says BlackBerry's market
share peaked in Indonesia in 2011 at about 43 percent and remained
healthy in 2012 only to suffer a collapse in 2013, when it fell to
around 13 percent.
And Bangah said it was unlikely the new device would be BlackBerry's saviour in Indonesia.
we expect a mass exodus to this device? Hardly likely," he said, adding
IDC expected BlackBerry's market share to fall to around 10 percent