Matthew Ball, managing director of BlackBerry in Australia and New Zealand, with the long-awaited Q10 phone. Photo: Rob Homer
The local boss of struggling smartphone pioneer BlackBerry says the company has not given up the hope of challenging Apple and Google's Android in the mobile market share stakes.
However, he says growth in other areas of the business has started to take on more importance as the long-awaited Australian launch of its Q10 keyboard smartphone arrives.
The comments come despite quarterly global numbers released on Friday night, which alarmed investors with an unexpected loss and lack of detail about sales of phones running on its new BlackBerry 10 operating system.
From this week, Australian customers will be able to get their hands on BlackBerry's Q10 handsets, which promises to boost sales because it is the first of the new range of BB10 phones to sport the company's trademark physical keyboard.
Australia and New Zealand managing director Matthew Ball said the launch was a critical step in an ongoing renaissance for the company, which has taken a hammering in recent years due to the dominance of the iPhone and phones running Google's Android.
Mr Ball said the launch of its Z10 touch screen phone at the end of March had started to change the narrative around the company, with speculation about the death of BlackBerry abating and local market share starting to rise again.
"When we launched the Z10 globally, that was our landmark transition from our previous operating system; that launch was what really announced that we were back in the game, and the Q10 launch is critical as it is leapfrogging that and is the next key beat for us in that story," Mr Ball said.
"For the quarter that just ended we tripled our [Australian] market share, which is by no means a small feat with a brand new platform. We are attracting people from other platforms like iOS and Android and also converting existing BlackBerry users from old devices."
QUARTERLY FIGURES SHOW LOSS
The launch will take on more importance in the light of quarterly earnings figures released on Friday, which sent shares plummeting by 28 per cent.
BlackBerry reported a loss from continuing operations of $US67 million, or 13¢ a share, on revenue of $US3.1 billion, whereas the market had been expecting a profit of 6¢ a share, on revenue of $US3.36 billion.
The company also cited the need for increased investment in a competitive environment as the reason for an expected operating loss this quarter.
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