Blackberry devices are displayed at a release party to promote the BlackBerry OS 7 devices in Toronto. Photo: AFP
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has confirimed that a mid-range phone running the company's latest operating system will debut later this year.
The confirmation, which came during the company's quarterly earnings call, suggests that BlackBerry may have had a change of heart. Until now, when pressed on the subject, CEO Thorsten Heins has either claimed the company has no intention of building cheap handsets, or has suggested it's at the very most a remote possibility.
However, citing a "big demand" for a midrange handset in a host of markets, Heins said that a third handset would be launched in September that would cost less than the existing BlackBerry 10 handsets -- the full touch screen Z10 and the QWERTY-keyboard/touch-screen hybrid Q10, both of which are priced to compete with the iPhone 5 rather than with entry-level Android devices.
But as well as the premium price tag, many consumers have thus far been weary of taking a gamble on BlackBerry due to its apps ecosystem, which, despite boasting 10,0000 titles, still pales in comparison to the breadth and depth of apps offered to Apple and Android device users.
Despite this shortfall, the BlackBerry World app store has seen rapid growth in terms of available apps, and one of the reasons for this is a porting application and emulator that BlackBerry has created that enables developers to essentially load their existing Android apps in one end and watch a BlackBerry compatible version tumble out of the other. Though the resulting apps won't make the best use of the company's OS, chipsets or devices' native features, the move has given it a headstart over its closest rival, Microsoft, which is similarly struggling to attract developers to its Windows Phone 8 operating system.
However, it is estimated that roughly 20 percent of BlackBerry 10 apps are ‘emulated' Android apps. Martyn Mallick, BlackBerry's vice president for global alliances and business development, claims that the goal of the emulator is to prove to developers that there is a market for their apps on BlackBerry devices. Once BlackBerry device owners start using them, the developers are then tweaking the apps to take full advantage of the handsets' innovative features.
As well as the emulator, BlackBerry offers a $10,000 guarantee to developers who may be unconvinced that they can monetize their apps on the platform.