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to buy additional rights. BlackBerry confident as Z10 hits US market - FT.com
March 21, 2013 11:17 pm
BlackBerry confident as Z10 hits US market
By Martin Dickson and Paul Taylor in New York
BlackBerry’s Z10 smartphone will go on sale for the first time in the US on Friday in a move the Canadian company hopes will help it halt the steep market share losses it has suffered over the past two years.
Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry’s chief executive, acknowledged on Thursday that the company faces a particularly tough battle in the US market, which he described as the “the most competitive” in the world.
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But he expressed confidence that the Z10, with its new user interface and BlackBerry 10 operating system, would fare well against rivals such as Apple’s iPhone, which he described as having “pretty much the same user interface as five years ago when it was launched”.
Mr Heins’ comments, made during an interview with the Financial Times, appeared to reflect confidence that the Canadian company was recovering.
Mr Heins, who took over as chief executive of BlackBerry a year ago, said the Z10, the first in a family of devices the company plans to launch this year based on the BlackBerry 10 operating system, had been well received in the more than 25 countries where it is available. He said sales had “exceeded our expectations”.
“The numbers from both enterprises and consumers are looking good,” he said, “I call this a trend because I want to get a few more data under my belt before I really call it a substantial success, but right now all indicators are looking green and really good.”
Mr Heins said early sales suggested the touch-enabled Z10 appealed particularly to consumers and that it had enabled BlackBerry to win back some customers who had defected to rivals ahead of the Z10 launch. “We are taking customers from other platforms,” he added while acknowledging that some popular consumer apps are not available for the new handset. “We are working to address that.”
On Thursday, the company, which changed its name from Research in Motion to BlackBerry this year, is due to announce its first quarterly results since the Z10 was unveiled.
In the interview Mr Heins contrasted the state of the company when he took over and launched a strategic review of its options with its prospects now.
“The hard work in the last year seems to have paid off,” he said, highlighting the cost reduction measures and other steps he took to reverse the company’s then rapidly deteriorating financial performance.
“I was told at the time that Blackberry would not survive and would be going bankrupt in two quarters and that we would burn through our cash,” he said, “so it was prudent for management and the board to look at strategic alternatives.
“Now we are here, BlackBerry 10’s launch has happened, we have, as reported last quarter, $2.8bn in cash, we are not bankrupt and we are still debt free, we have the money to invest in marketing, we have the money to invest in innovation of our platform. So I think the angle of the strategic review is changing more towards what do we need to do to capitalise on all these opportunities ... rather than what the fallback position is.”
He said the company is exploring the possibility of offering premium versions of existing services such as the popular BlackBerry Messenger service, a move that he said would help offset the downward pressure on the charges that network operators collect on behalf of BlackBerry from consumers.