Time is ripe

Are Black­Berry’s best days gone and for­got­ten? Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son re­ports

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH -

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

That is de­spite some in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, in­clud­ing Canada, the UK and the United Arab Emi­rates, putting the phones on sale al­most im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the New York launch late last month 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.

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. By 2012, those po­si­tions had dra­mat­i­cally shifted, with RIM’s 31 mil­lion phone 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.

Other an­a­lysts are like­wise as luke­warm on the prospects of a Black­Berry bounce­back. IDC mar­ket an­a­lyst Aman Ba­jaj says Black­Berry’s fu­ture de­pends on its am­bi­tions. ‘‘ They have to be real­is­tic,’’ he says. ‘‘ They’re not go­ing to come in and take over the mar­ket and take the No. 1 po­si­tion in the to­tal smart­phone mar­ket. That’s not go­ing to hap­pen.

‘‘ At least they’ve done the right thing in launch­ing de­vices that have got favourable re­views. But now whether that really trans­lates into con­vinc­ing peo­ple to take the leap is yet to be seen.’’

Adam Leach, prin­ci­pal an­a­lyst at Ovum, praises the phones as be­ing good enough to stand out from the crowd of Ap­ples and An­droids, but says that would not be enough to spark a big Black­Berry come­back.

Leach says Black­Berry will strug­gle to ap­peal to an au­di­ence wider than the phone’s loyal users and ‘‘ in the long term will be­come a niche player in the smart­phone mar­ket’’.

BEST CHANCE: Black­Berry CEO Thorsten Heins with the Black­Berry Z10 and Q10 smart­phones at the New York launch.

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