TORONTO – Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry has unveiled another new smartphone with a bigger screen amid minimal fanfare, as the company looks to attract users who want a midpoint device between a phone and tablet.
The BlackBerry Z30 comes with a five-inch screen, improved battery life and faster processor than the models released earlier this year, and is about the same size as its competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S4.
It’s the latest effort by the troubled Waterloo, Ont.-based company to grab a larger share of the technology market, as Apple, Samsung and other rivals continue to release new versions of their devices alongside a growing number of players in the tablet market.
The BlackBerry Z30 is larger than most smartphones, but smaller than the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which the company stopped producing earlier this year.
BlackBerry took a relatively low-key approach to promote the new device on Wednesday. The phone was announced overseas at an event in Malaysia that even chief executive officer Thorsten Heins didn’t attend.
MKM Partners analyst Mike Genovese said Malaysia is one of the few markets where BlackBerry has seen growth in recent years, and he expects that local consumers will value the larger screen more than in North America or Europe where alternatives are aplenty.
“It actually points out how limited this launch really is,” Genovese said in an interview from Connecticut.
“I think that we’re going to quickly forget about this.”
The approach is unusual, especially considering that tech firms often drum up as much enthusiasm as possible for their new devices in hopes they’ll eclipse their competitors. Both Apple and Samsung are known for CEOs championing new devices with conferences and streaming live video for loyal fans.
Unlike BlackBerry’s hyped launch of its Z10 in January, this time there wasn’t a flashy global event anchored by a CEO speech in New York or an appearance by singer Alicia Keys, who has served as the company’s global creative director.
Even as the BlackBerry announcement was made it was being overshadowed by early reviews for Apple’s new iPhones, which include fingerprint scanning technology and numerous other new features.
BlackBerry is in the midst of major changes within its own organization and recently formed a special committee to consider strategic alternatives, which could include its sale. Corporate decisions like that have raised questions about the future of the company, which could make the launch of the new BlackBerry Z30 a hard sell for customers.
“I’m just dumbfounded by a lot of the decisions the (BlackBerry) management team has made,” said National Bank analyst Kris Thompson in an interview.
“It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think this phone is going to make a difference.”
The BlackBerry Z30 will first arrive in the U.K. and Middle East next week, followed by availability at a number of Canadian carriers in the coming weeks, though specific dates haven’t been announced.
The company says the phone has a larger battery that will last for up to 25 hours of “mixed use.” Other updates include the latest version of the BlackBerry 10 operating system.
The announcement follows the unveiling of a new line of Apple’s iPhones last week, which included a lower-priced version of the popular smartphone in various colours.
Samsung also recently debuted its Galaxy Note 3, which has a larger 5.7-inch screen and faster processor than the new Blackberry Z30.
BlackBerry shares were up four cents to $10.92, in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
source – yahoo!