John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

BlackBerry 7 Destined for Emerging Markets

Just because BlackBerry bet its future on the next generation BlackBerry 10 operating system doesn’t mean it’s ready to abandon its predecessor, BlackBerry 7. There’s still some life in the OS yet, and BlackBerry has an idea for how to put it to use. It will use it to power lower-end handsets that can be sold in emerging markets where the transition to BlackBerry 10 might take a bit more time.

With the BlackBerry Z10 launched in a number of major markets and the QWERTY-keyboarded Q10 scheduled to follow it in April, BlackBerry will soon have its two marquee BB10 smartphones in wide release. What it won’t have, though, is a slick, new, affordably priced, entry-level handset for emerging markets.

That’s where BB7 comes in. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins says the company plans to release a new handset running that legacy OS targeted at price-sensitive consumers in those markets. “We want to give them a good BlackBerry experience,” Heins told the Canadian Press. “So this is where probably another BlackBerry 7 product in that range makes a lot of sense.”

And indeed it does. BlackBerry has a lot of low-end loyalists in India, Indonesia and other emerging markets. It would be foolish to alienate them by forging ahead with only pricey new handsets running an unfamiliar OS. Better to offer them a BB7 smartphone that can serve as a transitional device until BB10 is more firmly established and keep them in the fold. In that scenario, the low-end BB7 phone serves as a placeholder for the low-end BB10 device that will someday replace it, and BlackBerry continues to hit that price-sensitive sweet spot where it has seen so much success in emerging markets.

“We’re not excluding those markets from BlackBerry 10 because of us wanting to sell BlackBerry 7,” said Heins. “You will see both in coexistence for awhile in those markets.”

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