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TMCNet:  BlackBerry Z10 to cost Rs.43,490 in India

[February 25, 2013]

BlackBerry Z10 to cost Rs.43,490 in India

MUMBAI, Feb 25, 2013 (Mint - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Research in Motion Inc. (RIM), in the process of being renamed BlackBerry, introduced in India on Monday the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone powered by the new BlackBerry 10 operating system that's critical to the company's revival strategy.


The device, priced at Rs.43,490, is expected to be available in retail outlets in two days, company executives said. The Qwerty version based on the BlackBerry 10 platform -- the Q10 -- will be launched by April.

"With Blackberry 10, we have redesigned, reengineered and reinvented BlackBerry to create a new and unique mobile computing experience," Sunil Dutt, managing director of BlackBerry (India), told journalists on Monday.

BlackBerry has not fared well worldwide and analysts believe the high price of the Z10 may not help in a price-sensitive market like India.

"The price (of the Blackberry Z10) is about 15% on the higher side," said Jayant Kolla, partner at research firm Convergence Catalyst. "The industry was expecting it to be priced below Rs.40,000, considering that other key flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Nokia Lumia 920 are in the Rs.36,000-37,000 range. From a feature comparison perspective too, it doesn't have too much differentiating features from Android (Google Inc.'s operating system for smartphones and tablets), iOS (Apple Inc.'s operating system) devices." Abhishek Chauhan, senior consultant, ICT practice, Frost and Sullivan, said Blackberry 10 comes "as a welcome move for the high-end BlackBerry corporate and retail users who have been aspiring to move to a full-fledged smartphone but haven't been able to give up BlackBerry".

He added that "looking at the fact that BlackBerry has targeted the youth in the Indian market, it would need to ensure a decent portfolio of BB10 devices across price tiers to ensure volumes and market share in the long run".

A total of 5.5 million smartphones were shipped (not necessarily sold) in the January-July 2012 period in India. Samsung Electronics (India) Pvt. Ltd led with a 41.6% share, followed by Nokia India Pvt. Ltd's 19.2% and BlackBerry's 12.1%, according to a report by CyberMedia Research in October.

Google's Android operating system had a 56.4% share among operating systems followed by Nokia's Symbian with 17.4%. Apple's iOS was way behind with a 3% share while Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile (the Nokia Lumia range of phones) garnered 2.6%, the CyberMedia report said.

According to research firm Convergence Catalyst's estimates, BlackBerry's smartphone market share fell from around 15% in 2011 to less than 8% in 2012 in India.

It's done worse globally. Research firm Gartner Inc., which predicted sales of worldwide smartphone sales to end-users would touch 1 billion units in 2013 in its 13 February report, revealed that Samsung was the leader in both worldwide smartphone and overall mobile phone sales in the December quarter.

Moreover, in the smartphone operating system market, Android captured more than half the market, growing 87.8% in the December quarter, while RIM declined 44.4%, primarily because companies are allowing employees to "bring your own device"(BYOD). Employees can use their personal cellphones for work after security precautions.

Samsung, for instance, announced its Knox security software layer at the Mobile World Congress on Monday to address the BYOD trend. Knox will compete with BlackBerry's security strengths in the enterprise segment since it's similar to BlackBerry's new Balance system, which allows employees to keep their personal and work data separate at the application level.

On the consumer front, Apple recently stepped up marketing efforts in India, especially for the iPhone 5 -- appointing distributors and increasing sales pitches besides offering equated monthly instalments or EMI-based purchase options for the iPhone 5 and iPads. Samsung Electronics (India) has followed suit for its Galaxy range of devices.

Besides this, BlackBerry will also have to compete with the increasing significance of Indian device brands in the smartphone space, especially in the $150-250 range, said analysts.

Meanwhile, Indian telecom operators have begun announcing tariff plans for BlackBerry's Z10 device. On Monday, both Aircel Ltd and Tata DoCoMo Ltd announced a range of usage plans for both prepaid and postpaid subscribers.

___ (c)2013 the Mint (New Delhi) Visit the Mint (New Delhi) at www.livemint.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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