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BlackBerry Z10 should have been priced lower in India: Ivor Soans

IBNLive.com
Feb 27, 2013 at 06:14pm IST

Biztech2's managing editor Ivor Soans shared his perspective on BlackBerry Z10 with IBNLive readers.

Q. Hello, do you think that the price at which Z10 has been launched will lead to any footfalls? Secondly, what you expect of Q10's pricing now? Asked by: Remo

BlackBerry Z10 should have been priced lower in India: Ivor Soans

Biztech2's managing editor Ivor Soans shared his perspective on BlackBerry Z10 with IBNLive readers.

A. I just spoke to my local retailer in Powai, Mumbai. He's getting 15 units of the Z10 today and he's sure all will be sold out by tonight. I've spoken to other retailers too and they all think it will still sell well. Personally, I do not like the price point. I believe BlackBerry India should have priced it lower--I would have preferred a Rs 37-38K price point. But companies often think differently. How many units extra would be sold if it was priced at Rs 38000 versus the current price, considering both price points are at the highest end of the market? Perhaps there lies the answer and BlackBerry may have chosen to create aura which will help its cheaper upcoming BB10 smartphones (a total of 6 have been announced and we only know about two--the Z10 and Q10). Plus, if reports of sellouts in other markets are true then perhaps they want to make the most of this since better margins helps profitability. Also, India sometimes behaves weirdly--expensive stuff sells better because of the 'wanting to flaunt' factor. For instance, when BlackBerry was really big and the hottest smartphone 2-3 years ago, I came across many who had a BlackBerry but never used the BlackBerry service, which defeated the entire purpose of owning a BlackBerry. But yet, they just wanted the cool, 'I can flaunt it' factor. About Q10, I have no idea. But the Q10 is also a replacement for the Bold 9900 and one many of their users use and want a replacement for, and hence should sell strongly in India. So that may be priced more in tune for the India market.

Q. Is it too late for BlackBerry, I mean we will have Firefox os, the Tizen, Ubuntu, Windows 8 looking to strike back, Android not stopping, IOS still having a large fan following, where does BlackBerry stands now & in the near future? Asked by: sabir khan

A. How many users does the Firefox OS, Tizen and Ubuntu have? Let's not talk about things into the future. Do you know what tomorrow holds for yourself? Also, remember that BlackBerry still has an installed base of 80 million users. That's not insignificant. I think that with BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry has taken the discussion firmly away from specs and benchmarks. I don't know what the future holds for BlackBerry, but I firmly believe they are back in the race and have taken smartphone innovation to a new level. Where they go from here is up to them and for the market to decide.

Q. What was the phone you were using before the Z10? What are the top 4 reasons to compel you to switch to Z10? Asked by: Girish

A. I was using the Bold 9900 and a Sony Xperia. The Bold 9900 was my primary. For me the key reasons were the incredible keyboard (think about it, I switched from the best physical keyboard EVER--the 9900's, to an onscreen keyboard. And I type articles on my phone). Then there's battery life. At 16-17 hours for a screen so rich, it is incredible. Then BlackBerry Hub, which has made communication and multitasking so much easier and also the gestures, which are a far more intuitive way of using a smartphone as opposed to the open app, close app, click for homescreen kind of way.

Q. Has the smartphones got great future with lot of MNCs and Indians focussing more on tablets which are economical and with bigger screen size give better viewing experience? Asked by: Manush

A. Well, just yesterday we heard of a smartphone that docks into a tablet. I personally believe both are separate categories. But for those who want the best of both, phablets could the way forward. But personally, I think anything bigger than the size of the Z10/iPhone 5 is too big. And think about how convenient it would be to take calls on your iPad. Wouldn't be right?

Q. Some phones are giving battery of 3200 mah so 1800 might be drawback and 8 mp camera when some advanced phones are giving 13 mp so some things are on the negative for BlackBerry. Asked by: Shailesh

A. You shouldn't compare mAh to mAh. Rather each OS uses power differently. So, for all you know the Z10 could beat an Android with a 3200 mAh battery in actual usage. Since this chat is primarily about the BlackBerry Z10, I should say that I got 16-17 hours of use, which I found incredible. And I roam a lot, am constantly on 3G, use multimedia to some extent (car audio) and also use WiFi and Bluetooth. As far as camera is concerned, comparing again just by megapixel count isn't the right way. But having said that, some of the new tpp-end Android smartphones from reputed manufacturers that feature 13 MP definitely look like they have better cameras than the Z10, which is something for BlackBerry to think about, especially since some of those Android smartphones may be cheaper. However, do remember that unique Time Shift camera mode too, which is quite innovative and only Nokia Lumia has something similar since the same company's technology (Scalado) is being used in both cameras.

Q. Can the Screen share feature be the new web ex especially for SME's who get ad-hoc requests from clients to showcase products etc? Pity its limited only to BB. Asked by: Ashish Malhotra

A. You are absolutely right! But Cisco WebEx has much more too, at the desktop level, etc. But that's the first thing I thought of when I saw the screenshare feature. Yes, it's limited to BlackBerry, but that's what makes the Z10 unique, right?

Q. Will the touchscreen capability of the phone defeat the purpose of the phone as many people find it convenient to use BlackBerry's keyboard? Asked by: Ravi

A. You need to experience it to believe me that this keyboard is incredible and that there is nothing like it. I was a hardcore physical keyboard user. For me, coming from the Bold 9900, which has the best physical keyboard on any device, the Z10's keyboard has been an unbelievable surprise. I am not going back to physical keyboards and as a writer, I type articles on my smartphone. There's nothing like the Z10 keyboard available anywhere (and I don't even use the eerily precise word suggestions since I type with two thumbs). When I first heard BlackBerry's APAC head telling me in November that he preferred the keyboard on BB10 to the old physical keyboards, I sniggered. I was so wrong then.

Q. Blackberry has been taking things lightly in India when other MNCs have been marketing aggressively, Blackberry was focusing only on its brand to market itself so will it attract more buyers now? Asked by: Ravi

A. I think a new BlackBerry campaign is breaking soon. And I've also heard radio jingles last week about OS 7 BlackBerry devices. And many brand surveys rate the BlackBerry brand still very highly in India. I guess with the release of the Z10 and BlackBerry10, something that was 2 years in the making, you'll hear a lot more noise from BlackBerry India.

Q. Could BlackBerry have used quad core processor and higher HSDPA for better processor speed of the phone? Asked by: Arvind

A. You need to ask BlackBerry whether they could have. I believe it would have been possible, but smartphone makers who can differentiate on the basis of OS (Apple and BlackBerry) don't just go for quad cores just because everyone else is using it. Android makers have to go for the latest because they have no differentiation in the OS. BlackBerry and Apple don't play that game. Rather, I would look at if the existing dual-core is impacting performance in any way. And in my 27 days of use, I have not found anything of the sort.

Q. Application development on the Blackberry OS has been a pain point. How do you believe that will change in the BB Z10 or future BB phones with the immense popularity/ UI that Android or iOS have acquired? Asked by: Vandana

A. BlackBerry has been working on applications for BlackBerry 10 for far more than a year now. And surveys I've read now have developers rating BlackBerry very highly in terms of the ease to develop an app. They also have the highest ratings for HTML5. And with Android ports possible in as little as 20 minutes, I don't think application development is still a pain point on the BlackBerry. However, if you are a developer, you should try it yourself and tell us if you feel it is still tougher than Android or iOS. Also, when it comes to apps, while Android and iOS have stores that feature 700000 apps, etc, how many do you use? BlackBerry is focusing on the top apps and they've promised that almost all will come to BlackBerry10. And they're not letting go of numbers too. Their store opened with 70000 apps and reports say has crossed 100000 apps now. No other OS at the start has had so many. That is something to be considered.

Q. Is the screen resolution of 760 x1280 pixels best in Industry as other smart phones are coming up with features of better resolution in sunlight? Asked by: Arvind

A. Please remember that BlackBerry is not playing the specs game. That's for Android smartphone makers who have no other differentiator. But the Z10's display is incredible and just because it is slightly better than the iPhone 5's when looking at PPI, doesn't mean the iPhone 5 display is bad. Both are incredible, just one has slightly better PPI. Don't go by specs alone.

Q. What are the upcoming features to attract more users than Android & iOS? Asked by: Hari

A. More users than Android and iOS is a bit down the road, right, considering BlackBerry's market position today. First let them complete the Z10 rollout, which has many differentiators as compared to Android and iOS. BlackBerry has promised an exciting roadmap of announcements for the year ahead and I'm just as eager as you are to know more.

Q. How BB going to manage the millions of Android & iOS apps ? and how better than these OS? Asked by: Hari

A. Millions? On Oct 30, Google supposedly got on par with iOS with 700000 apps.

Q. Don't you think the phone is too expensive. Apart from a BB loyalist why would anyone spend Rs.44K on a dying brand? Asked by: Joe

A. Yes, I think the Z10 is very expensive. Whether it is too expensive is for the market to decide. And ditto with the dying brand bit. I wouldn't call a brand with 80 million users and which has just released a new OS that has received some great reviews and which is supposedly doing very well in the markets where it has been released a dying brand. The differentiation is there--the best keyboard, the best communication centre there is, incredible battery life for a smartphone, amazing capabilities for business use that is unmatched, etc.

Q. Hi, I think BB should encourage existing consumers to upgrade from their old BB phones to new one. This would help them to increase their user base many folds. What do you think? Asked by: Saurabh

A. Yes, I believe they will. During the launch they said upgrade offers would be coming. Any company would definitely look at getting its loyal user base to upgrade. And some reports from markets where the Z10 is being sold suggest that 50 percent of buyers are existing BlackBerry users and the remaining are Android and iOS users.

Q. Android got 700,000 apps same time BB os10 (70,000 apps) very much lack behind the android & iOS.., how its going to tackle this? Asked by: Hari

A. Android has got 700000 apps after years. And because of the lack of oversight, some of those apps have serious malware issues too. And compatability is also an issue. Blackberry had 70000 apps on Day 1 of BlackBerry 10 and that's gone to 100000 today. I guess as more users buy the Z10, more and more apps will come as happened with Android. And for the top apps, BlackBerry is going all out to ensure they are there. And users can also sideload Android apps themselves and many work fine.

Q. Now only 2 devises like Z10, Q10 running OS10, what abut old devices it can get updates or future devices only going to get OS10..,If no update means it may affect old models sales or not? Asked by: Hari

A. None of the old BlackBerry smartphones (OS 4, 5, 6, 7) can be updated to BlackBerry10. The older BlackBerry smartphones (OS 7) and the 8520, which runs OS 5 play at lower ends of the price spectrum. But they are definitely getting hit hard by cheap Android smartphones which offer far more capabilities than older BlackBerry smartphones. On older BB's the USPs are physical keyboards, BBM and E-mail.

Q. Z10 is priced same as an iphone 5, but what is superior in Z10 than iphone5, can you elaborate.At this price customers may choose iphone5 over an Z10, just for the flaunt factor. Asked by: Sanjeev

A. The Z10 has a better display, microSD card support (with 16 GB internal and 64 GB microSD you can reach 80 GB), a removable battery and a better one, Adobe Flash support, NFC suppport, a better browser.

Q. Hi, frankly other then BBM, what other Ace's are left with Blackberry? Asked by: sabir khan

A. A whole new OS that is innovative, 80 million users. I honestly don't believe that BBM is such an USP. BBM is the BEST mobile IM out there, period. But it isn't the most popular. And in IMs I will use more of the one that has more of my friends on it. I would want BlackBerry to make BBM cross platform.

Q. What is the main features in OS 10 in Blackberry? Asked by: Hari

A. BlackBerry Hub, which is an outstanding communications centre that is unmatched; BlackBerry Flow, which is so much more intuitive than other UI approaches; BBM with video and screenshare (no other mobile OS offers screenshare); the best keyboard among touchscreens and one which has converted a physical keyboard lover like me; outstanding battery life, a very cool Time Shift camera feature that literally enables me to get a perfect picture even if your smile has turned into a frown, BlackBerry Balance, which is the most elegant solution for corporates who want to allow smartphone access securely.

Q. How its Z10 different from other smart phone & what is the special feature other than BBM, Camera, Touch, Os 10? Asked by: Hari

A. BlackBerry 10 has many key differentiators that I've dealt with in the previous answer. Also, remember that BBM now comes with video chat and screenshare (no other mobile OS offers screenshare); the best keyboard among touchscreens and one which has converted a physical keyboard lover like me; outstanding battery life, and BlackBerry Balance, which is the most elegant solution for corporates who want to allow smartphone access securely.

Q. Today People changing cheap android phones every 3 months but every BB will hold at least more than year, iPhone, Samsung, Sony, HTC puts all efforts in 1 model (iPhone 2, 3, 4, 5.,Galaxy S, S2, S3) with new feature the same Idea going to adopt by BB also Asked by: Hari

A. Other than Apple, I don't think Samsung and Sony put all their efforts into one model. They all have excellent options at various price points. While it is rumoured that Apple will also launch a cheaper Apple smartphone later this year, BlackBerry is surely launching at least 6 models on BlackBerry10.

Q. How does Blackberry hope to solve the problem with the number of apps? Will Android apps be converted to BB World? Asked by: Raj

A. Android apps can be easily ported to BlackBerry 10, some in less than 20 mins. You can check our own apps (Firstpost.com, Moneycontrol.com and soon the IBNLive.com app too, which are all Android ports--and they all work brilliantly. Also, when it comes to apps, while Android and iOS have stores that feature 700000 apps, etc, how many do you use? BlackBerry is focusing on the top apps and they've promised that almost all will come to BlackBerry10. And they're not letting go of numbers too. Their store opened with 70000 apps and reports say has crossed 100000 apps now. No other OS at the start has had so many.

Q. Will the Indians be interested enough for this phone when companies like Micromax, Lava are giving advanced phones with jelly bean features at less than 10K so will it worth spending 4 times of this amount? Asked by: Shailesh

A. Well, why would you buy a Samsung Galaxy SIII then when Micromax and the others have similar specs at lower price points? Clearly brand matters. Service matters. And that is when both Samsung Galaxy and Micromax are both offering the same basic OS. This one has many differentiators that are not available anywhere. BlackBerry Hub, which is an outstanding communications centre that is unmatched; BlackBerry Flow, which is so much more intuitive than other UI approaches; BBM with video and screenshare (no other mobile OS offers screenshare); the best keyboard among touchscreens and one which has converted a physical keyboard lover like me; outstanding battery life, a very cool Time Shift camera feature that literally enables me to get a perfect picture even if your smile has turned into a frown, BlackBerry Balance, which is the most elegant solution for corporates who want to allow smartphone access securely.

Q. Is Blackberry trying to change the image of the company from email based security phone which means it fills needs of few people to a true smartphone with advanced features? Asked by: Manush

A. BlackBerry invented smartphones. I think BlackBerry has been trying to move away from the secure e-mail bit for years and finally with the Z10 they have a real answer. Something that appeals to consumers and corporates who are focused on security.

Q. The price of Z10 is quite high at above 40K in India so it might prove to be an negative from sales perspective so the phone will not do well in India. Asked by: Manush

A. I don't like the Rs 43450 MRP sticker too. But I honestly can't say for sure whether it will do well or not. Leave that for the market to decide. And we will know soon. BlackBerry will announce quarterly results on March 28, which should reveal the truth about sales numbers.

Q. Why has blackberry changed the name of company from RIM to Blackberry and what difference will it make in fortunes for the company? Asked by: Manav

A. I think BlackBerry wanted to be seen as one brand and didn't want the confusion in name, though Research in Motion is a beautiful name with a lot of meaning behind it. But times change and BlackBerry obviously wanted to move on. I'm no marketing expert, so I can't tell you what difference just a change in name means. All I can say is that it is easier for a journalist like me. Earlier, I had to type, BlackBerry-maker, Research in Motion. Now, it's just BlackBerry. :)

Q. Can BlackBerry Z10 change the fortunes when android and apple are doing so well in the market? Asked by: Hitesh

A. Going by market reports of sellouts, etc, and the share price of BlackBerry, the Z10 may have already have begun the change of fortunes. Most experts believe that there is room for a third player. And especially so when Apple seems to be slowing down and Android has significant malware issues and fragmentation issues. Also, remember that BlackBerry still has an installed base of 80 million users. That's not insignificant. I think that with BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry has taken the discussion firmly away from specs and benchmarks. I don't know what the future holds for BlackBerry, but I firmly believe they are back in the race and have taken smartphone innovation to a new level. Where they go from here is up to them and for the market to decide.

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