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Making BlackBerry cool again -- a big task

Matt Hamblen | March 14, 2013
Marketing matters as much as technology for Z10.

Burden said the initial releases of the Z10 in Canada and the U.K. in February, and later in countries such as India, were greeted with enthusiasm -- but that enthusiasm quickly petered out. Two U.K. companies -- Carphone Warehouse and Vodafone -- have cut their prices for the Z10 by as much as 20%.

"Dropping the price in the first month is not a good sign," Burden said.

An AT&T spokesman defended that company's Z10 price tag of $200 with a two-year contract, calling it "terrific." AT&T wouldn't disclose any of its plans to market the device.

Verizon Wireless has discussed plans to roll out both the Z10 and Q10, but it hasn't set release dates. Some reports have indicated that Verizon will also charge $200 with a contract for the Z10. (Verizon refused to confirm that price.)

Sprint plans to carry only the Q10 and will likely start selling the device sometime later this year. For its part, T-Mobile will carry both devices but hasn't announced pricing or availability.

Independent retailer Solavei on Monday announced a no-contract Z10 for $689 through GSM Nation; that's down from the $999 price tag it announced in February.

Several analysts were curious as to how BlackBerry intends to market the Z10 in the U.S. and follow up on its Super Bowl ad promoting the BlackBerry brand.

BlackBerry said it is already marketing the Z10 in the U.S. along the lines of its global "Keep Moving" campaign announced in February. Plans include 20-, 30- and 60-second TV commercials to illustrate "the Keep Moving promise in a creative way, bringing the concept of flowing through life with BlackBerry 10," according to a spokeswoman for BlackBerry, although it isn't clear when or where those ads will appear. Print and other advertising will follow that Keep Moving theme. BlackBerry first ran a 60-second Keep Moving commercial in Canada. The company has also posted a 3 minute, 34 second Keep Moving ad on YouTube that shows a young woman using a Z10 to communicate wirelessly about a construction project.

BlackBerry also has created a website to help users explore BlackBerry 10 features, including interface features called Flow and Hub. Singer Alicia Keys has been appointed global creative director to help show what BlackBerry 10 can do, the spokeswoman said.

However ambitious BlackBerry's plans for marketing the Z10 may be, the device's appeal to employees of companies with BYOD policies who have already jumped to the iPhone or to Android devices will be limited, said Jack Gold an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "I do think there will be strong appeal to BlackBerry users who were waiting for the new devices," Gold said, "although I think many will wait for the Q10 qwerty device in a few weeks."


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