BlackBerry Q10 and R10: Second BB10 salvo returns to QWERTY

| April 6, 2013
Mobile By Apr. 5, 2013 4:10 pm

BlackBerry R10 QWERTY

BlackBerry is going back to its roots for rounds two and three of the BlackBerry 10 assault. The high-end Q10 is already up for pre-order in England, while the mid-range R10 been snapped on a tabletop and leaked to the web.

So far, the BlackBerry 10 product releases are hitting exactly as CEO Thorsten Heins promised they would. Premium devices would come first, with the all-touch Z10 hitting in the lead-off position. Up next, the company’s first BlackBerry 10 QWERTY device, the Q10.

BlackBerry die-hards have been clamoring for a QWERTY handset ever since BlackBerry 10 started taking shape. Early glimpses at the OS were all given on the touch-only Dev Alpha and Dev Alpha B phones — which looked like tiny BlackBerry PlayBooks.

BlacBerry Q10 (left)

Now, they’re finally about to hit the streets. Again, it’s premium first — the Q10 will take over for the BlackBerry Bold and will set back BB fans in the UK a cool £579. That’s either a sign that BlackBerry has gotten some swagger back or further proof that the company is still way out of touch with the mobile market. For comparison’s sake, a 16GB iPhone 5 sells for £50 less.

The UK remains a stronghold for BlackBerry, however, particularly among younger folks. Have they got that kind of cash to throw around? Likely not, so it’s safe to assume that BlackBerry is hoping the hardcore productivity fiends won’t be able to resist the allure of a physical keyboard and slick mobile OS that’s designed for smooth multitasking and ready to tackle information overload.

The rumored R10 — and other lower-end devices — may ultimately be the company’s great white hope. As cool as the Z10 and Q10 might be, it’s going to be quite a challenge for BlackBerry to claw back high-end device share from the likes of the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, and the HTC One.

In emerging markets, however, BlackBerry has an excellent chance to muscle in. In many countries, locals love their inexpensive QWERTY Curves. The fact that they’re running an outdated operating system and feature middling cameras doesn’t matter.

When these same people have the chance to pick up a brand new R10 (or one of the other lower-end BlackBerry phones that should launch later this year), they’ll leap at the opportunity. BBM is still a powerful draw in some places, and many won’t want to leave their contacts behind when they purchase a new phone.

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