BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) Plans a Comeback in the Handset Market with Budget Devices


BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) once reigned high in the professional smart phone industry in many South East Asian countries, Reuters said in a report. But eventually its market in its once loyal followers such as Indonesia declined. Now BlackBerry is aiming to hit a comeback with its new low cost touch screen phone, the Z3, in Jakarta.


The handset was unveiled at a grand launch stormed by paparazzi in the Indonesian Capital city. It is one of the many devices made with FIH Mobile Ltd (HKG:2038), a subsidiary unit of the Taiwanese giant Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (TPE:2354), most famous for assembling gadgets such as iPads and iPhones for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).

The smart phone, which is stated to release in markets on May 15, retails less than $200, and could very well decide BlackBerry Ltd’s (NASDAQ:BBRY) future in smart phones as well as its association with Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (TPE:2354). Ryan Lai, market analyst at consultancy IDC says that if Z3 lets them grow again, even in a small steady pace, then that is a success by itself. It means that there is still scope for BlackBerry in Indonesia.

After BlackBerry Ltd’s (NASDAQ:BBRY) new Chief Executive John Chen took its reins at the end of last year, the Z3 is the first phone to be launched. Plans are being made to gradually introduce it in India, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia gradually after induction in Indonesia.

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY), based in Waterloo, Ontario has high hopes that once this new device hits the market, it will help gain some collapse in the market shares, ceded to Apple Inc’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Samsung’s  Galaxy devices on Google’s Android operating system. Chen stated that if the new device does not face a positive reply from the market, then they definitely have a few negative issues to deal with, at the launch in Jakarta’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. He added that he expects to sell millions of Z3s around the world, though BlackBerry officially stated that it does not have a sales target.

Hardly a couple of years ago, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) held the largest market for smart phones, owning a 40% share in the Indonesian market. It shipped more than 600,000 handsets per quarter and Indonesia was once known as the ‘BlackBerry Country’. But BlackBerry 10, a premium high end model, launched last year, failed to attract a market, in a country where more than 40% of the population lives on about $2 per day. The market fawned to a meager 4% of the market and BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) shipped 100,000 pieces in the first quarter this year. Samsung dominated the scene, selling every 1 in 3 smart phones in South East Asia’s largest economy.

Chen is optimistic though. He hopes that the company’s fortunes turn upon releasing the Z3 and other devices that follow. One of the major turnoffs of the Blackberry 10 was its price, and Chen hopes that the Z3, priced under $200, attracts the huge customer base BlackBerry once enjoyed. He says that the Blackberry Z3 Jakarta edition was specially devised for Indonesian customers with features to type in Bahasa and BBM stickers featuring local characters.

Later this year, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) in association with Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (TPE:2354) is planning to launch a new touch screen device dubbed the Blackberry Classic, which features the return of classic buttons, ‘Menu’, ‘Back’, ‘Send’ and ‘End’ along with a track pad. BlackBerry is doing this to address common consumer difficulties. For Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (TPE:2354), this is an opportunity to introduce its manufacturing plant in Indonesia, which have been on a hiatus due to tax breaks, property and import restrictions.