UPDATE 3-BlackBerry opens up messaging, unveils mid-tier smartphone

Tue May 14, 2013 1:01pm EDT
 
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* Q5 device with physical keyboard to target younger users

* CEO says company reaches "solid ground" after rough ride

* BBM messaging to be available on rival devices

* Stock drops about 4 percent (Adds analyst quotes, details)

By Euan Rocha

ORLANDO, Fla., May 14 (Reuters) - BlackBerry announced plans on Tuesday to offer its popular instant messaging system on rival devices and introduced a new mid-tier smartphone targeted at countries where its faded brand remains strong.

Tapping into its still robust popularity outside North America, BlackBerry said the new Q5 smartphone would be available starting in July in selected markets in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The Q5 includes the tiny qwerty keyboard that still sets BlackBerry apart from most rivals.

It gave no prices, but as BlackBerry opens the latest chapter of its turnaround attempt, it will clearly target a younger, more price-sensitive crowd with the device, which will be available in colors including pink, red and white.

"BlackBerry is clearly aiming to replicate the success of the BlackBerry Curve in emerging markets," Ovum analyst Adam Leach said, referring to the company's Curve smartphone, which has been popular in India and other developing countries.   Continued...