BlackBerry Ltd launched a low-cost touchscreen device in Jakarta, the
Z3, as the embattled smartphone maker looks to revive sales in emerging
markets like Indonesia where its once-fervent following has shrivelled.
handset, to be presented at a glitzy launch event in the Indonesian
capital on Tuesday, is the first in a line of devices being made with
FIH Mobile Ltd, a unit of the giant Taiwanese Foxconn Technology Group
best known for assembling gadgets like iPhones and iPads for Apple Inc.
success of the handset retailing for less than $200 (roughly Rs. 12,000) could well decide
the outcome of both BlackBerry's tie-up with the contract manufacturing
giant and its own future in smartphones. The Z3 Jakarta Edition will hit
store shelves on May 15.
"If this device allows them [BlackBerry]
to grow again, even if it's just small, steady growth, that's a success
in itself. That says there is still room for BlackBerry in Indonesia,"
said Ryan Lai, market analyst at consultancy IDC.
Z3 is the
first phone to be launched by BlackBerry since new Chief Executive John
Chen took the helm late last year. It's initially being launched in
Indonesia, but will be gradually introduced in other markets as well.
Ontario-based BlackBerry hopes that the device and others to follow
will help it claw back some of the collapse in its market share, ceded
to Apple's iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co's line of Galaxy devices
powered by Google Inc's Android operating system.
From 40 percent to 4 percent
two years ago, the Canadian firm had a 40 percent share of the
Indonesian market, shipping more than 600,000 handsets per quarter in a
country once known as "BlackBerry Nation".
But the launch of the
premium, high-priced BlackBerry 10 last year failed to attract buyers in
a country where nearly 40 percent of the population live on about $2 (roughly Rs. 120) a
day. The company's market share has slumped to just 4 percent, with
shipments of around 100,000 devices per quarter, according to IDC.
Indonesia is now dominated by Samsung, which sells about one of every three smartphones in Southeast Asia's largest economy.
hopes that the Z3 and other devices to follow spark a change in the
company's fortunes. The Z3 is being launched at a price point below $200
to address one of the big turnoffs for consumers in emerging markets -
BlackBerry 10 devices being too pricey.
"From conception to
delivery, the BlackBerry Z3 Jakarta Edition was designed specifically
with out Indonesian customers in mind," Chen said in a statement before
the launch. The device will allow users to type in Bahasa and come with a
special set of BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM Stickers featuring local
Later this year, BlackBerry will launch a new,
non-touchscreen device dubbed the BlackBerry Classic in partnership with
Foxconn. The handset will see a return of the command keys that include
'Menu,' 'Back,' 'Send' and 'End' buttons, along with a trackpad.
BlackBerry hopes the move will address the concerns of those users who
found their new devices hard to navigate.
For Foxconn, the tie-up
fits with plans to set up a manufacturing plant in Indonesia to build
smartphones and other electronic devices. The Taiwanese company's
ambitions have been on hold for years due to drawn-out talks over tax
breaks, property and import restrictions.
© Thomson Reuters 2014
Mobiles launched in May 2014