UPDATE 2-BlackBerry goes back to basics in quest to recover customers

Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:45pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Paul Sandle and Euan Rocha

BARCELONA/TORONTO Feb 25 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd unveiled a new, cheaper touchscreen smartphone and a "classic" model with a keyboard on Tuesday, as it tries to stem losses and win back once-devoted security-conscious business and government users.

The news, coupled with more details about the company's strategy in its services business, helped send shares in BlackBerry surging more than 9 percent.

The lower-end Z3 smartphone, priced at under $200, is being built under a partnership deal with FIH Mobile, the Hong Kong-listed unit of Taiwanese electronics company Foxconn Technology Co Ltd.

Code named Jakarta, the device will go on sale in April in Indonesia, where BlackBerry's BBM messaging service is proving very popular, said John Chen, who took over as the group's chief executive late last year.

"It's a 3G phone, and we have a plan to expand the phone to different parts of southeast Asia after Indonesia," he said at the annual Mobile World Congress trade fair in Barcelona. "We have a plan to go global with an LTE (high speed 4G) version of it some time in the future."

BlackBerry, once a must-have device for every business executive and government official because of its pioneering secure email service, has haemorrhaged market share to Apple Inc's iPhone and rival devices running on Google Inc's Android software.

Opening its admired BBM messaging service to other operating systems - with Microsoft Corp's Windows Phone being the latest addition - has further hit BlackBerry sales, particularly in emerging markets. Research group IDC put BlackBerry's share of the smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2013 at just 0.6 percent, down 77 percent from a year ago.   Continued...