The Q10 is BlackBerry's first handset with a dedicated keyboard to run the brand's new operating system. Photo: AFP
As BlackBerry readies itself to launch its latest phone in its home country, a survey reveals that despite a huge promotional push, the majority of US consumers have no idea that the company has launched a new operating system or handsets.
Canadian retailers and carriers began accepting pre-orders for the Q10, BlackBerry's full QWERTY keyboard smartphone, this week, with the device expected to be released in that country by the end of the month. The device, the first with a dedicated keypad to run the company's new operating system BlackBerry 10, also integrates a 3.5-inch touch screen, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. As such it could be the device that is key to reversing the Canadian phonemaker's fortunes as it incorporates the best of the latest technological developments in the market while retaining the element that made the original BlackBerrys so popular in the first place -- a dedicated keyboard for faster error-free typing.
Although there is no official word as to when the device will be hitting the shelves in the US, reports suggest that it could launch on the T-Mobile network in May. However, if a new survey conducted by investment firm MKM Partners is anything to go by, BlackBerry is going to have to pull out all the stops to attract consumers.
The poll of 1500 US consumers found that only 5.9 percent of respondents would consider a BlackBerry as their next smartphone, but more concerning was that when asked "Are you aware that BlackBerry 10 was launched in Canada and Europe in late January 2013?" 82.6 percent of those surveyed said "No". When asked if they were interested in or at all curious about the BlackBerry phone family, 68 percent said that they were not.
MKM Partners's Michael Genovese, who commissioned the survey, said of the results: "We were surprised that only 13% expect the BB10 to be available in the U.S. immediately or within the next 30 days. In fact the survey was administered between March 7th and April 2nd, 2013, which bracketed AT&T's (March 22nd), T-Mobile's (March 26th) and Verizon's (March 28th) Z10 U.S. launches by about two weeks. The ineffectiveness of BlackBerry's marketing plan is highlighted by the 63% of respondents who were completely unsure as to when the BB10 would be released in the U.S."
Canada will be the first territory where the Q10 will officially launch. UK consumers are also already able to pre-order the device but it is not expected to hit the market (BlackBerry's biggest after its native Canada) until May.