The immediate fate of BlackBerry's new smartphone push may soon be revealed. That's because AT&T has kicked off pre-sales of the Z10 smartphone.
AT&T is offering the BlackBerry device for $199.99 with a two-year contract. The phone hits AT&T store shelves on March 22.
The BlackBerry Z10 is the first smartphone to launch with the new BlackBerry 10 platform, which was delayed several times before launching.
The BlackBerry Z10 uses a touchscreen keyboard. The BlackBerry Q10, with a physical keyboard, is expected to go on sale later this spring. The BlackBerry Z10 also features a high-resolution 4.2-inch display and an 8-megapixel camera that records 1080p HD video.
Price Just Right
Carl Howe, vice president of Research and Data Sciences at Yankee Group, told us he believes the Z10 pricing is just right.
"The pricing parity with devices such as Samsung's Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5 positions the Z10 as a...'hero' smartphone of the same caliber, not as a discounted entry-level smartphone, as we've seen with some Windows Phone devices," Howe said. "Yes, this means that consumers can choose other phones for the same price, but it also means that dyed-in-the-wool BlackBerry fans can choose their favorite platform without having to pay a premium for it."
Howe said he wouldn't discount BlackBerry's ability to recapture some of its prior users with the new devices. BlackBerry has focused its OS experience on its core strengths of messaging and e-mail, he said, simply because those are tools that people use to get work done.
"That emphasis is what originally won people to the BlackBerry platform in the early 2000s, and I believe that segment is eager for a smartphone with that same emphasis," Howe said. "I think we'll only get a true measure of how big that segment is when the keyboard-based Q10 comes out in a few months, but the Z10 in March will certainly make a start."
Underneath Z10's Hood
In case you aren't familiar with the Z10 or BlackBerry 10, here's a rundown:
BlackBerry Hub acts as a central location for e-mails and conversations. You can peek into the Hub from any app with one swipe to see what's new, then swipe back to what you were doing. Meanwhile, the new BlackBerry Touchscreen Keyboard learns how you type and adapts to your style so you can type faster with more accuracy.
The BlackBerry Z10 features BBM Video and Screen Share so you can catch up face-to-face and share the content on your screen with your friend or co-worker. And with the camera, Time Shift aims to let you capture the moments before and after you press the shutter to get the best shot. BlackBerry Story Maker then lets you weave those moments together to create a movie in just a couple of swipes.
If you are corporate user who also depends on your smartphone for personal reasons, BlackBerry Balance technology allows you to use your Z10 for work and play without compromising the security of your business-related content when connected to BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.