The handset, unveiled at a glitzy launch event in the Indonesian
capital on Tuesday, is the first in a line of devices being made
with FIH Mobile Ltd, a unit of the giant Taiwanese Foxconn
Technology Group best known for assembling gadgets like iPhones and
iPads for Apple Inc.
The success of the handset retailing for less than $200 could well
decide the outcome of both BlackBerry's tie-up with the contract
manufacturing giant and its own future in smartphones. The Z3
Jakarta Edition will hit store shelves on May 15.
"If this device allows them to grow again, even if it's just small,
steady growth, that's a success in itself. That says there is still
room for BlackBerry in Indonesia," said Ryan Lai, market analyst at
The Z3 is the first phone to be launched by BlackBerry since new
Chief Executive John Chen took the helm late last year. After
Indonesia it will be gradually introduced in six other countries
including the Philippines, India, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry hopes that the device and others
to follow will help it claw back some of the collapse in its market
share, ceded to Apple's iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co's line of
Galaxy devices powered by Google Inc's Android operating system.
"If the market doesn't receive this product well, then we definitely
have some negative issues to deal with," Chen said at the launch at
Jakarta's Ritz-Carlton hotel. BlackBerry said it doesn't have an
official sales target for the device, but Chen said he expects to
sell millions of Z3 handsets around the world, without disclosing
FROM 40 PCT TO 4 PCT
Just two years ago, the Canadian firm had a 40 percent share of the
Indonesian market, shipping more than 600,000 handsets per quarter
in a country once known as "BlackBerry Nation".
But the launch of the premium, high-priced BlackBerry 10 last year
failed to attract buyers in a country where nearly 40 percent of the
population live on about $2 a day. The company's market share has
slumped to just 4 percent, with shipments of around 100,000 devices
in the first quarter this year, according to IDC.
Indonesia is now dominated by Samsung, which sells about one of
every three smartphones in Southeast Asia's largest economy.
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Chen hopes that the Z3 and other devices to follow spark a change in
the company's fortunes. The Z3 is being launched at a price point
below $200 to address one of the big turnoffs for consumers in
emerging markets - BlackBerry 10 devices being too pricey.
"From conception to delivery, the BlackBerry Z3 Jakarta Edition was
designed specifically with our Indonesian customers in mind," Chen
said in a statement. The device will allow users to type in Bahasa
and come with a special set of BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM Stickers
featuring local characters.
Later this year, BlackBerry will launch a new, non-touchscreen
device dubbed the BlackBerry Classic in partnership with Foxconn.
The handset will see a return of the command keys that include
'Menu,' 'Back,' 'Send' and 'End' buttons, along with a trackpad.
BlackBerry hopes the move will address the concerns of those users
who found their new devices hard to navigate.
For Foxconn, the tie-up fits with plans to set up a manufacturing
plant in Indonesia to build smartphones and other electronic
devices. The Taiwanese company's ambitions have been on hold since
2012 due to drawn-out talks over tax breaks, property and import
(Reporting by Randy Fabi in JAKARTA and Euan Rocha in TORONTO;
Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)
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