Black beauty’s huge hur­dle

The brand is bid­ding to claw back mar­ket share on the back of the Z10 model, writes Rod Ch­ester

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

AUS­TRALIANS des­per­ate to get their fin­gers tap­ping on a new Black­Berry phone will have to twid­dle their thumbs for a few months more.

Tel­stra and Op­tus will stock the Black­Berry Z10 touch­screen phone but not un­til next month at the ear­li­est, and prices have not yet been re­leased.

The news for diehards want­ing a Black­Berry Q10 with a phys­i­cal QWERTY key­board is bleaker, with no Aus­tralian telco due to stock the Q10.

That is de­spite some in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, in­clud­ing Canada, the United King­dom and the United Arab Emi­rates, putting the phones on sale al­most im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing last week’s New York launch of the two phones and the Black­Berry 10 op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

Black­Berry also an­nounced de­tails of a new app store with 70,000 apps, a new com­pany name with Re­search in Mo­tion re­brand­ing it­self as Black­Berry, and a new face to ap­peal to the elu­sive younger gen­er­a­tion with singer Ali­cia Keys named Black­Berry global cre­ative di­rec­tor.

Af­ter years of los­ing mar­ket share to Ap­ple and An­droid, those at Black­Berry know this is the best chance to stop the slide into obliv­ion.

Back in 2010, Gart­ner fig­ures show that Re­search in Mo­tion sold 49.7 mil­lion phones, giv­ing it a small lead over Ap­ple, which sold 46.7 mil­lion phones. By 2012, those po­si­tions had dra­mat­i­cally shifted, with RIM’s 31 mil­lion phones sales a long way be­hind Ap­ple’s 180.3 mil­lion.

De­spite the op­ti­mism at Black­Berry’s New York launch, Gart­ner does not pre­dict a turn­around of for­tunes. It pre­dicts by 2016, Ap­ple will be sell­ing 266.3 mil­lion phones against 23.3 mil­lion for the re­branded Black­Berry.

For­rester Re­search prin­ci­pal an­a­lyst Charles Golvin says half of US Black­Berry own­ers plan to get a new phone in the next year but fewer than two in five will buy an­other Black­Berry.

IDC mar­ket an­a­lyst Aman Ba­jaj says Black­Berry’s fu­ture de­pends on its am­bi­tions.

‘‘ They have to be real­is­tic. They’re not go­ing to come in and take over the mar­ket and take the num­ber one po­si­tion in the to­tal smart­phone mar­ket,’’ he says. ‘‘ At least they’ve done the right thing in launch­ing de­vices that have got favourable re­views.’’

GOOD

1. The phone matches or beats its com­peti­tors in most tech­ni­cal features. It has a 4.2-inch LCD screen with a 1280 x 768 screen res­o­lu­tion. It has a dual-core 1.5 GHz pro­ces­sor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of in­ter­nal stor­age and Mi­croSD card sup­port of up to 64GB. It has an 8-megapixel cam­era ca­pa­ble of 1080 HD video and a 2-megapixel front­fac­ing cam­era able to shoot 720 HD video. 2. The cam­era has Time Shift, which lets you take a burst of im­ages of peo­ple and then ma­nip­u­late ar­eas of the im­ages for a photo with ev­ery­one smil­ing. 3. The op­er­at­ing sys­tem al­lows you to sep­a­rate work life (apps and data) from pri­vate life. 4. The Z10 has a re­place­able bat­tery. 5. Black­Berry is a choice for peo­ple who find An­droid and iOS tired.

BAD

1. The Black­Berry World store has 70,000 apps but big names (Instagram, Spo­tify, Sonos, Flip­board and pop­u­lar Aus­tralian busi­ness apps) are miss­ing. 2. Early re­views of the Z10’s 8-megapixel cam­era show it per­forms poorly in low light. 3. With­out an an­nounce­ment about the avail­abil­ity of the Q10 in Aus­tralia, Black­Berry diehards will have to de­cide whether to switch to a touch­screen with the Z10 or hope the phys­i­cal key­board ver­sion fol­lows. 4. Early re­views say the built-in Maps app is dis­ap­point­ing. 5. It does not have its own cloud-based sys­tem, like Ap­ple’s iCloud or Google Drive.

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