With plummeting stock prices and unimpressive earnings, BlackBerry / Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) is focusing its attention on a fast-growing segment in the second most populous mobile market in the world—young Indian professionals—The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Q5, which recently launched in India, gives Indian consumers more affordable access to the smartphone made famous for its business appeal.The Q5 forms the bedrock of Blackberry / Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s new Indian strategy, BlackBerry India Managing Director Sunil Lalvani told the WSJ in a recent Q&A.
BlackBerry trade-in program
“The latest smartphone Q5 is targeted at the youth and young professionals in bigger cities and towns, while the Q10 and Z10 are for the young looking for a premium product,” says Lalvani. Older models are also available targeting rural customers, and BlackBerry / Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) has created a trade-in program that lets people pay the difference in monthly installments when they upgrade. “A lot of existing BlackBerry users have come in for the exchange program, but a lot of non-BlackBerry users have also opted for it, which is very encouraging and very good for us.”
Lalvani acknowledges that there is intense local competition in India, but he says that most of it is in the sub-$100 market, while BlackBerry models start in the $100 - $200 range and run up to $700 for the high-end Q10. “There is aggressive competition, there is no denying that. But one needs to look at the various segments of the market,” he says.
Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY) continues to struggle in North America
There is a strong consensus that the North American launch of the Q10 was a disaster, and BlackBerry / Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) recently announced that the Z10 would see its price slashed 75 percent, an announcement that doesn’t bode well for the company’s future.
BlackBerry, known as Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) until a recent name change, was long considered the businessperson’s cell phone and its messaging service BBM was so popular it earned the nickname ‘crackberry’, but the company’s fortune has fallen as the iPhone and other touchscreen smartphones became more popular than BlackBerry’s built-in keyboard design.
BBRY phones, a liability
The proprietary operating system used in BlackBerry phones has also become a liability as software developers are loathe to completely retool an application for a relatively small market. The resulting scarcity of apps available to BlackBerry users further entrenches the company’s disadvantage on the market.
Despite these setbacks, Lalvani is clearly optimistic about the future for BlackBerry and the potential of its new operating system, BB10. “The BB10 is not just a mobile operating system; it’s a completely new computing platform...It’s really an operating system that cuts across any mobile computing end-point, it could be a tablet computer, it could be a smartphone, but it also could be an automobile vehicle, it could be any gadget in your house that connects to the internet.”
But for investors hoping that BlackBerry / Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) will go back to its roots and focus on core competencies, this might not be the brand of optimism they were looking for.