BlackBerry Returns To Korea, But Is The Timing Right?

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BlackBerry will be back in the Korean smartphone market on September 20. In 2012, the Waterloo-based smartphone maker pulled out of the market and has been out of it for four years. BlackBerry fans hailed the news of the company’s return. However, it is facing a rough road ahead to make its comeback successful. Among other reasons, the timing appears bad, reports the Korea Herald.

Priv – may not impress Korean buyers

BlackBerry, the self-proclaimed most secure smartphone maker, will return to the Korean market with its first Android-based device, the Priv, which was released first in the United States in November 2015. In the tech-savvy and trendy consumer’s view, the Priv is already an outdated model.

The Priv has a 5.4-inch QHD curved display, 32GB of internal memory, a Snapdragon 808 processor, and 3GB of RAM. All these features may not appear very attractive to the Korean customers, who will probably have better options to choose from later this month, including Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 and LG’s upcoming V20 smartphone, notes the Korea Herald.

Market watchers expect that the release of the Priv is aimed at influencing consumers who are nostalgic about BlackBerry phones. This Android-powered smartphone comes with a QWERTY keyboard, which is probably the only attractive factor of the device, the report states.

One market watcher told the Korea Herald that it is difficult to foretell how many units the Waterloo-based company will be able to sell here, “as the firm traditionally targets a small group of its loyal fans in the global market.” Also BlackBerry’s marketing strategy will play an important role in the difficult competition against bigger local players such as Samsung and LG, the market watcher said.

BlackBerry to leave hardware business soon?

In October, CEO John Chen said the Canadian firm would leave the hardware business if it was not profitable in a year. Chen’s time limit is approaching, and with it, speculations are also rising that the company will bid farewell to the hardware market forever.

Seeking Alpha made this assessment and pointed to to two data points. The first is the pricing of BlackBerry’s DTEK 50, its second Android-powered phone. Initially, the smartphone was selling on Amazon for $335, but later, its price was reduced to $299. The second is that the Canadian firm is discounting all of its phone accessories. The promotion, however, ends on September 27, just before the Canadian firm reports its second fiscal quarter results.

These two points led Seeking Alpha to conclude that the Waterloo-based company may announce that it is exiting the hardware business along with its earnings report.

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