BlackBerry has just announced fiscal 2013 fourth quarter and year-end results and the company has beaten the Street’s expectations and turned in a profit; it also shipped approximately 1 million BlackBerry Z10 smartphones in the quarter which ended on 2 March. Do remember that the India launch happened only on 25 February, and the US launch is just taking place.
However, in the earnings call, some interesting aspects about product roadmap came out. Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry said that the much expected Q10 with a QWERTY keyboard, which should appeal to traditional BlackBerry keyboard lovers (with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt being the poster boy for that group) will launch in April. Since the Z10 went on sale in India within a few weeks of the UK and Canada this means there is a good chance that the Q10 will make it to India in April.
Heins said that BlackBerry chose to launch with the full-touch Z10 first to meet the needs of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) user group, who are largely young professionals who prefer touchscreen smartphones and use their own devices for business and personal use as opposed to company-issue smartphones.
Also, with the Z10 prohibitively priced at over Rs 43,490 in India and the Q10 also seen as a premium smartphone (the Q10 is the successor to the Bold 9900 which was BlackBerry's flagship till the Z10 was launched), users looking for BlackBerry 10 goodness in a cheaper mid-tier offering have some good news too.
Heins announced that mid-tier devices would be coming to markets in the middle of BlackBerry's fiscal year, which started on 3 March. This means we should see the rumoured R series in markets sometime in the September time-frame. Mid-tier devices will be key for price sensitive markets like India. Then there's also the rumoured Aristo which has some great specs, but no details were offered on that.
Also BlackBerry is not giving up yet on its BlackBerry 7 platform, which saw 5 million smartphones being shipped in the last quarter and which is doing very well in Latin America, South Africa and some APAC markets like Indonesia. Heins also announced that new BlackBerry 7 products will launch in certain markets outside the US. Since BlackBerry is still selling reasonable numbers of BlackBerry 7 devices in India as they are competitively priced, this may mean we should expect to see some of these new BlackBerry 7 devices in India too.