Research In Motion Ltd. *(BBRY) has launched a new low-end BlackBerry smartphone in Dubai to maintain its popularity in the Middle East and other emerging countries. The new handset is based on BlackBerry’s BB10 operating system (:OS).
BlackBerry launched the keyboard-based Q5 last month and it looks similar to, which looks similar to its flagship Q10 smartphone. The smartphone has a 3.1 inch touchscreen display and offers the BB10 experience at an affordable price. Customers in Dubai will be the first to lay their hands on Q5, which aims to compete directly with cheaper phones from Nokia Corporation (NOK) and other phones running on Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android OS.
The smartphone comes in red, pink, white and black targeting a wider audience, particularly the young people. The smartphone is retailed around $400 in the UAE, much less that the $735 worth Q10. However, the phone is available for free in the U.K., with a two-year contract.
BlackBerry has been struggling in a smartphone market mainly dominated by Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone and other Android-based devices. In an attempt to recover its deteriorating smartphone business, BlackBerry launched its much-awaited BB10 OS-based device on Jan 30, 2013.
Initially, BlackBerry started selling the touchscreen version (Z10) and later the keypad-based Q10 in several of its markets including the Gulf region. Initially, the device received good response in most of its key markets. However, the demand fizzled out in most of the countries and even the U.S. launch has failed to create any meaningful result.
The UAE is an important market for BlackBerry, where the company has performed well in spite of the slump in its global market share. Although research firm IDC declared that Android dominates 75% of the global smartphone sales, BlackBerry has been able to maintain its popularity in the UAE, where it holds a significant position.
Blackberry has followed the footsteps of its competitors, who have generally launched an economical version of the flagship handsets and have extensively marketed to capture the low-end market.
We believe Q5 is a significant addition to BlackBerry’s latest handset range as it will be attractive to the emerging market customers, who have a low purchasing power. In addition to boosting BlackBerry’s sales, the launch is expected to strengthen its presence in the region.
Research in Motion currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
*Research In Motion announced that effective Jan 30, 2013, the company would operate around the world under the name BlackBerry. From Feb 4, 2013, the company’s ticker symbol for trading has been changed from “RIMM” to “BBRY” on NASDAQ. The legal name of the company has not changed, for which the approval of the official change by shareholders will be sought at the company's Annual General Meeting later in 2013. During the time, the company will do business as BlackBerry.
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