VENTURES AFRICA – Today Blackberry launched its latest Smartphone, the Blackberry Z3 in Lagos, Nigeria. At first glance, the phone calls to mind the Blackberry Z10- sleek and stylish- but it is quite bigger with a 5inch touch screen and also has an in-built FM. As a promo, Blackberry also promised consumers who purchase Blackberry Z3 Smartphone in July an exclusive app offer. All they have to do is log into the Blackberry (R) WorldTM storefront from their Blackberry Z3 Smartphone and download, free, a selection of paid apps worth N8,000($50).
But the selling point of the Z3 is perhaps the price. At N39,000 ($241) and boasting a 1.5GB RAM, 8GB internal memory, an Android Compatible BB OS 10.2.1, an in-built FM and most importantly a long-lasting battery that Blackberry has promised will kill the need for carry-around chargers, among several other eye-catching internal features, the Z3 is bound to grab the attention of the Nigerian nay African Smartphone market.
This is actually what Blackberry is setting out to do, with Z3 the Tech giant plans to "extend the Blackberry (R) 10 platform to a new generation of customers in Nigeria at an attractive price point and offers them more ways to securely communicate, collaborate and be productive with an experience built on reliable, secure communications".
The Z3 is expected to better the Z10 in market performance; Blackberry's Territorial Director for East, West and Central Africa, Charles Asinugo, revealed at the Z3 Nigeria Launch that the Z10 will soon be fazed out of the market, replaced by the Z3. The Z3, Mr Asinugo explains, speaks to Nigeria's fast moving market that is driven by price but where users expect a quality product.
Z3 Signals Blackberry's comeback
The Z3 signals Blackberry's intent to battle it out for a return to the Tech- top. Mr Asinugo revealed the company's plan to launch Blackberry Passport and Blackberry Classic in September and November respectively. "We have engineered the new strategy to stabilize the company", he declared, "We are capitalizing on our traditional strengths in security and enterprise to return blackberry to growth and for stability. We listened to our customers both in Nigeria and worldwide and engineered the new strategy to stabilize the company. While also leveraging our Q and X embedded business to focus on future growth opportunities in machine to machine communication".
Blackberry is also finally posting positive figures, with a $966 million 1 st Quarter revenue the Blackberry's Territory Director happily announced "we are no longer bleeding, we are beginning to recover!" "Significant progress is been made to return blackberry to growth and profitability", he added, going further to give a timeline -2016, to return Blackberry to the summit of the Tech industry.
Africa is Crucial to Blackberry's Recovery
To achieve the 2016 target, Blackberry confesses, Africa is crucial. Answering to Ventures Africa's Can Africa Save Blackberry?Mr Asinugo sounded a very big yes "Africa can save Blackberry", and Nigeria the focal point. "The Nigerian market is one of the strategic markets for Blackberry, and we hope it will help return us to profitability. The appetite for mobile devices is enormous in Nigeria; we also see a lot of opportunities both on the device itself and the applications".
So, the million dollar question becomes, Can Blackberry regain its lost followership? We may not know that answer now, but the Z3– how it performs in the market –will give us a clue. And that clue lies in Africa, Nigeria especially.
By Onyedimmakachukwu Obiukwu