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Q10 with qwerty keyboard seen as lure to majority of BlackBerry's 76M users

Matt Hamblen | April 26, 2013
BlackBerry needed to produce an updated qwerty device for its faithful base of 76 million subscribers, but it remains to be seen whether the Q10 will make serious inroads in reversing BlackBerry's decline.

"Get on the plane and look at all the businesspeople still hanging on to hardware keyboard devices," he said. "I do think there will be a ready base of users on BlackBerry wanting to upgrade. But will that be the majority of the market? Probably not."

Even if the Q10's price isn't low enough to attract young texters, there are at least four more phones coming in 2013 from BlackBerry, and some of those could feature qwerty designs at lower prices, Burden said.

Nokia on Wednesday introduced the qwerty Asha 210, with a 2.4-in. screen that is integrated with social networking features. With a street price of $72, it falls into the category of an "advanced feature phone," not a full smartphone, with its powerful processor and other features.

Burden said it's unlikely BlackBerry can build a young clientele with low-cost qwerty texting devices overnight, although he said BlackBerry Messenger is becoming a full-functioning social network that could lure more users to BlackBerry.

Clewley said the phone maker plans to talk more about BlackBerry Messenger at its BlackBerry Live event in May. HE noted that BBM is popular in Europe and has moved beyond an instant messaging app to include instant videoconferencing and voice conferencing in the BB 10 devices.

"BBM is already viewed as BlackBerry's social network," Burden said. Sales of the Q10 and future qwerty BlackBerry devices could be helped by greater interest in BBM, he said.

"But BBM won't get bigger until you can download it to iOS and Android," Burden said. "SMS never took off until it was interoperable on all networks. BBM on some BlackBerry devices will stay a niche until the time it becomes an application on other platforms."


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