The BlackBerry Q10 -- complete with the beloved keyboard that helped make the BlackBerry so popular -- is now selling in the U.S. But is the classic keyboard and new operating system enough to spark a post-RIM revival?
Before we consider that, consider more details of the smartphone: It's available in black or white and offers the largest-ever touchscreen display on a BlackBerry device, along with the QWERTY keyboard. T-Mobile and Verizon are a selling the device. Verizon is selling it for $199 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile is selling it for $579 with no contract. AT&T and Sprint are taking pre-orders.
"We're convinced there is a significant segment of the market who prefers to have a physical keyboard," BlackBerry Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben said Wednesday in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "We want to continue to serve that segment."
Jeff Kagan, a wireless industry analyst in Atlanta, told us he wants BlackBerry to be successful with the Q10, its second device running the new BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system.
"The last few months have shown promise, but according to news stories the original BlackBerry Z10 did not sell as well as we all hoped. Perhaps it was the lack of an actual keypad," Kagan said. "If that's the case, then things should start to improve pretty quickly at BlackBerry as the company starts selling their new Q10 in the U.S. and this device has an actual keyboard. And BlackBerry users love their keyboard."
Kagan has talked plenty about BlackBerry's struggles over the last several years, as well as its rebuilding and the initial launch of the BB10 OS. He's always quick to point out what the company is doing right and what the company is doing wrong. The reactions to his analysis have been mixed: Some agree but hardcore BlackBerry fans took him to task.
Is Older Better?
"That means BlackBerry still has a smaller, but still solid user base to grow from. The question is simple," Kagan said. "Can BlackBerry rebuild to their former greatness? They can if they continue to offer all the same features users loved, plus new ones. They will miss if they ignore what current customers love and still need."
Still, he warns not to expect this new BlackBerry Q10 to be any better or worse or different than the Z10. The only difference is the keyboard.
"So what will BlackBerry do differently going forward with marketing, advertising and public relations? We'll have to watch and see if the carriers like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint Nextel give the new BlackBerry any more promotion activity. That will be telling," Kagan said. "Believe it or not, many still prefer the older BlackBerry operating system."