BlackBerry Hopes for Reversal of Fortune at BlackBerry Live

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-05-15 Print this article Print

To that end, the Q5 will be sold first in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and some parts of Europe, and will be focused on the mid tier, meaning that it will be less expensive than current BlackBerry devices. BlackBerry already sells large numbers of older designs in these regions, and the Q5 gives the company a BlackBerry 10 device that is more affordable for people in these markets. Notably, the BlackBerry Q5 will be offered in a range of colors, joining a recent trend in mobile devices.

The part about raising visibility is a little harder than just offering a cheaper phone, however. To accomplish this, the company needed to find a way to get the attention of the non-BlackBerry-using population. After all, if they don't think about BlackBerry, they won't buy a BlackBerry. This is likely the rationale behind the growth of BBM outside of the limits to BlackBerry World.

BBM is one of those apps that can be described as world-changing. It's the app that caused oppressive governments in the Middle East and South Asia to look for ways to ban the BlackBerry completely. The reason? It was being used to coordinate the unrest that accompanied the Arab Spring and other pro-democracy movements in many parts of the world. The reason so many governments fear BBM is because of its uncrackable encryption.

With BBM available on the iOS and Android platforms, BlackBerry gets a number of benefits. First, it raises the awareness of BlackBerry because more people will be using it, and you can bet that the app will clearly be a BlackBerry product. Second, it helps take the heat off of BlackBerry because its devices won't be the only ones out there with such security—it will be available everywhere, and few governments will be able to find a way to ban virtually all smartphones.

BlackBerry's equally secure PIN messaging, in which any BlackBerry device can send an encrypted email-like message to another BlackBerry device using only the device's personal identification number, won't be included. The company keeps an important feature to itself, while deflecting any attempt to restrict BlackBerry.

The BBM Channels, a targeted social networking app that works with BBM, adds something to the offerings that may help encourage users to start using BBM. BlackBerry is setting up channels for celebrities, sports teams and the like.

The whole idea is to spread the BlackBerry word beyond the current user base. If it succeeds and the company's mind share grows, BlackBerry gains in visibility. Over the long term, this means that the company won't be seen as just the phone for government workers, banks and corporate users, but also as a way for everyone to have fun, and to do it securely. By taking the longer view, BlackBerry may have found a way to grow again.


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