After launching its top-of-the-line smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 OS, the company today launched the mid-range BlackBerry Q5 in India. The BlackBerry Q5 is BlackBerry's third smartphone to run the new BlackBerry 10 system. While the earlier attempts by Blackberry were highly criticised for their high pricing, will the BlackBerry Q5 help the company to catch up with rivals? Ivor Soans, managing editor of Biztech2, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the new BlackBerry Q5.
Q. Why do you think cost of Blackberry phones are still high when compared to other successful smartphones? Asked by: Praneeth
A. The Z10 and the Q10 are certainly priced higher. However, it's a fact that premium materials are used and these smartphones stand up well to abuse. Also, at the higher end of the market, BlackBerry might be thinking that there won't be that much of a surge in buying even if they had priced the Z10 and Q10 under 40K, which itself is a high price point. I think the Q5 is priced much better than the Q10 and the Z10 and quite competitive, though the market will be the final judge of that.
Q. Q5 has both keyboard and touchscreen to browse. But to incorporate both, screen size is made small. Doesn't this make hard to browse? Asked by: Praneeth
A. The browser on BlackBerry 10 is among the best and the highest rated for HTML 5. It also comes with a Reader mode that strips the page of all non-essentials, making it easier to read. But yes, compared to a Z10, it's tougher to browse on the Q5. It's all about your needs-for some folks, a physical QWERTY keyboard is most important and they are willing to sacrifice screen real estate for that. These could be people who have to type a lot and who create content rather than just consume content on a smartphone.
Q. Has the difficulties BB had with the GOI on info sharing been a cause of worry to prospective customers to move in to rivals? Asked by: sundar1950in
A. I feel the media has not understood some of these so-called 'difficulties.' Some have misunderstood this as BlackBerry security being weak. As recent global stories prove, governments are electronically snooping on citizens more than ever before. Microsoft reportedly helped the NSA and FBI with access to Skype calls and messages. It's not like BlackBerry is in a unique situation or is weak on security. Rather, it's the opposite--BlackBerry is so strong on security that governments have been forcing the company to provide lawful access. But the bright part is that BlackBerry seems to have convinced the Indian government that access is not possible to BlackBerry Enterprise Server messages, which means that corporates don't need to worry about government snooping on corporate messages. I think BlackBerry has been proactive in communicating this too, though it's hard to beat media perception. But yes, competitors often use Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt and some unscrupulous salespeople have scared some prospective customers to move.
Q. The pricing of BB makes it appear that this is only for those in BB - Big Business or those who get it on company's account. Is the target group confined to this? Asked by: sundar1950in
A. That's perhaps true for the Z10 and the Q10, but not the Q10, which is priced under Rs 25000. Of course, there's a segment even below Rs 10000 and those in that segment will see Rs 25000 as exorbitant, but that's just perception. With the Q5, BlackBerry finally has a BlackBerry 10 smartphone for the middle class consumer.
Q. Samsung is upbeat with many enticing offers. How does that compare with BB's marketing strategy? Asked by: sundar1950in
A. Samsung's marketing juggernaut is hard to beat with the amount of money Samsung is pumping into marketing. However, BlackBerry marketing executives say they have attractive EMI schemes with zero percent interest, trade-up schemes for the huge base of BlackBerry users, etc, too. At today's press conference for the Q5 launch, BlackBerry marketing executives claimed that their campaign to reach college students with attractive EMIs and the trade-up campaign for the Z10 has been very successful.
Q. Motorola is out, Nokia is in difficulties,BB suffered loss of customers - Has the market got saturated or is it that new arrivals have no big advantage? Asked by: sundar1950in
A. Well, things change. If you've been reading the news lately there's a lot of interest in Motorola's Moto X smartphone, with Google reportedly setting aside a marketing war chest of 500 million dollars. So next year this time, Motorola may be well and truly back. Nokia may not be out of trouble yet, but the tide certainly seems to be turning. And BlackBerry despite naysayers, is still around and seems to have big plans. Technology is all about who captures the imagination and companies like Motorola, Nokia and BlackBerry became too large and perhaps too slow. But they certainly have strengths and recognised brand names and while the market today seems like a two-horse race, things may change tomorrow. BlackBerry's troubles for instance have made it a far more leaner and nimbler player today. Also, don't count out new mobile OSes like Ubuntu's smartphone OS, Firefox, etc.
Q. Smart phones - are these gadgets really smart? Asked by: sundar1950in
A. That depends on your definition of smart. Does my smartphone drive my car or cook dinner? No. But in a few decades, it might be smart enough to at least drive my car with me being an observer. My first mobile phone just did text and calls. Today, my smartphone does e-mail, free video calls, has apps that give me weather updates, tells me when a gate change happens for a flight I'm taking, or if there's a delay, is a medium though which I can watch movies, listen to music, has maps that guide me to places I don't have directions to, can help my doctor monitor my health, can help me keep fit, helps me manage my calendar and schedule, etc, etc, etc. That's certainly far, far smarter than a phone that just did text and voice calls, isn't it.