BlackBerry launched the Q10 in India— the second of the two BlackBerry 10 OS-based handsets that were first shown at the company’s global BB 10 event in January this year. And it’s priced at a staggering Rs 44,990.
BlackBerry loyalists who haven’t been excited by the all-touch (and high-priced Z10B) were hoping for a much lower price tag on the Q10. They’ve been disappointed. The first six months of 2013 have gone by with the one, high-priced, all-touch BB 10 model, the Z10. And the last thing BlackBerry needed now was an expensive companion model.
Don’t get me wrong. By all accounts, the Q10 is outstanding. From keyboard to overall design and engineering, sharp 3.1-inch AMOLED multi-touch display, a unique carbon-weave pattern on the back (black model only), noise-cancellation tech, and a better radio (adaptive signal strength modification, for better reception in low signal). There’s also 4G and NFC, 16GB internal storage and a 2100mAh battery (okay, but not spectacular).
I’ve been using the Z10 for three months, most things are great about it, but there’s the missing keyboard. I’d love the Z10, but with a BlackBerry keyboard added. That’s the Q10. I want it.
So what’s the problem? The price.
At this price point, most people, even BlackBerry loyalists, will not buy a phone with a keyboard, and especially not a BlackBerry. At the Rs 45,000 level, buyers expect the iPhone – or something seriously “cooler” or different— with a large, multi-touch screen.
What’s more, BlackBerry had begun to make major inroads into the younger segment in India, with cheap plans (Rs 99 for BBM) and handsets starting at Rs 10,000. It has nothing new yet to offer in this growing segment. The Q5, a colorful BB 10 device aimed at this segment is at least three months away. And we don’t know the price yet.
Every BlackBerry handset below Rs 40,000 is running on older OS and is simply too long in the tooth. There’s also too much competition from both Android and Windows phones. Yes there’s the BlackBerry Messenger, which is still a killer app, but the multi-platform WhatsApp has been doing very nicely. Plues BBM will soon be available on other platforms too.
The Q10 brings back the BlackBerry’s distinctive QWERTY keyboard, somewhat similar to the Bold’s, though with absolutely straight lines. This keyboard will appeal to its old-faithful senior-executive user base. But wait. Many of them have already crossed over to iPhone and other models.
And so, the other way to look at the Q10 – a BB 10 device with a keyboard and display – is that it could have been BlackBerry’s savior, bringing it back the numbers and market-share in India – if it had a Rs 30,000 price tag. At Rs 45,000, that’s not going to happen.
Written by Prasanto K. Roy (@prasanto on Twitter) is editorial advisor, CyberMedia