BlackBerry’s Budget Phone Q5 and BBM for Google Android And Apple iOS Devices

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At the Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ: BBRY) organized “BlackBerry Live 2013” event on Tuesday, the 14th of May, 2013 there were several strategic and key announcements that were made. Important ones being the announcement regarding the low cost budget phone Q5 and its move to allow the users of rival OSes Google Android and Apple iOS to be able to use the until now key differentiator BlackBerry Messenger on their devices. Lets take a quick look at what this could mean to us.

Since the Stone Age, BlackBerry devices had always been made for the corporate crowd, mainly the aging workforce and the key decision makers who needed to be informed of every detail even while on the move. Then came a shift when RIM realized that the devices were being under utilized by the corporates and that they were not generating enough profits. This is when the newer workforce stepped in in terms of better specced and significantly lower priced BlackBerry devices that even the young professionals could afford. Along with this came the expensively priced data plans that were needed to be paid through the nose in order to make use of all the features that the phone had to offer. However, with todays move, BlackBerry has launched a budget phone targeted exclusively at selected markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia (including the Asia Pacific region), and Latin America, with availability beginning in July. No pricing details have been announced yet though. We are however guessing that the device would definitely be priced at a sub Rs. 10,000/- level given that at present the lowest priced BlackBerry device Blackberry 9220 is priced just below Rs. 10000/- at the cheapest.

BlackBerry that currently happens to be running in losses may also decide to not tie up with the operators for their services and rather offer them as a bundled package or on a pay as you go method. While none of the device or OS manufacturers have employed such a model before, I would not be surprised if BlackBerry did. A majority of BlackBerry’s users swear by the coveted BBM and it is also said to be the star attraction for people who either shift to BlackBerry or altogether shy away from shifting to other devices.

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Given that at the same event BlackBerry also announced the availability of the BBM on rival OSes, it is no wonder that BlackBerry has a definite pricing strategy under its sleeve. The BBM would be available for download from the App Center and Play store for free download come summer. We have been informed that the first version of BBM would be listed with the listed features.

  • The immediacy of BBM chats
  • Multi-person chats
  • Voice note sharing
  • BlackBerry Groups, where BBM users are able to set up groups of up to 30 people and share calendar, photos, files and more

While BBM has declined to give further details about the system requirements etc. at this point, they have reassured that the same would be provided at a time closer to the launch. To quote Andrew Bocking, Executive Vice President, Software Product Management and Ecosystem, at BlackBerry, “For BlackBerry, messaging and collaboration are inseparable from the mobile experience, and the time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service. BBM has always been one of the most engaging services for BlackBerry customers, enabling them to easily connect while maintaining a valued level of personal privacy. We’re excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community.”

BlackBerry also added that it plans to add its social platform Channels as well as voice and video chatting to the app later this year as an update.

Now once again we are left to wonder if BBM would make this app a freemium app with several of the features available as teasers only or make it entirely free or work on a subscription model the way rival cross platform messaging apps work. We are guessing BBM would take the freemium route which could get the users addicted to the features available as well as pay only for what they think they would be using.

Source: BlackBerry Blog

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