BlackBerry Crumble? New Phones May Save Brand
BlackBerry's latest smartphones could see it return to glory after several years in decline, according to experts.
Parent company Research In Motion (RIM) plans to launch two handsets, the Z10 and X10 on Wednesday. Pictures leaked online purporting to be the Z10 show a touchscreen phone along similar lines to the iPhone. The X10 is believed to be more of a classic BlackBerry, with a Qwerty keyboard.
A new tablet device is also in the pipeline.
The new BlackBerry 10 (BB10) handsets and software could lead to the firm's "resurrection", one expert says, after it saw its popularity wane in favour of phones like Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S3.
Malik Kamal-Saadi, principal analyst with Informa, who has used the device ahead of the launch, says it has high specifications that allowed users to do "good stuff in a couple of clicks", which would appeal to both businesses and consumers.
He said the new operating system (OS) on the two expected handsets was a "trump card" that could see it win back customers lost through the poor performance of the previous BlackBerry 7 phones.
"The 'experience' is very attractive for business users and consumers. BB10 has what is needed to seduce back in both developed markets (Europe and North America). I haven't seen anything like it in terms of the experience," said Mr Kamal-Saadi.
Ernest Doku, technology expert with uSwitch.com, said: "For RIM and BlackBerry, it is very much the resurrection of the BlackBerry brand.
"Consumers have been waiting a long time to see what they were coming up with. They have fallen to the wayside but a lot of signs are pointing to this being their return to relevance in the smartphone market."
But some question whether the latest BlackBerry launch, delayed from last year, is too little too late.
Russell Feldman, associate director for technology and telecoms consulting at YouGov, said: "We know that right now RIM is in a poor situation, and so there is definitely a lot of pressure for the BlackBerry 10 to deliver.
"According to SMIX UK, our consumer smartphone tracker, two-thirds of RIM's current customers do not expect to get a BlackBerry again, with most opting to switch to an iPhone.
"It needs to be a decent system to at least get critics on its side, and it then could have the potential to take share away from others. However, RIM may have left it too late."
BlackBerry was the market leader in 2007, but the launch of the iPhone and Android smartphones has reduced its market share to around 5%.
RIM is also paying for a US Superbowl advert to help promote its new products.
The event attracts one of the biggest TV audiences of the year in America and companies pay millions of dollars for advertising time.
The battle for domination of the mobile and tablet market has become increasingly heated in the past 18 months, with Apple's competitors taking it on with a series of new products.
Samsung's Galaxy smartphones have outsold the iPhone for a fourth consecutive quarter, according to recent figures.
While Nokia and Microsoft have joined forces to launch two new phones which run on the Windows operating system.