MOBILE phone customers in the UK were the first to get their hands on the new BlackBerry device in a launch which could revive the fortunes of the company.
Pixie Lott unveiled the device to customers at Phones 4u in Oxford Street – a day after Alicia Keys appeared at the New York launch of the device.
While the first working models of the BlackBerry Z10 went on sale across the UK yesterday, customers in the US will not be able to buy one until March, while in Canada customers will have to wait until later this month.
Analysts said that the launch was crucial for the Canadian company Research in Motion (Rim), now renamed BlackBerry, and was a serious bid to compete with the iPhone.
The new BlackBerry, which uses the brand’s new BB10 operating system, will be considerably cheaper while promising many of the same functions as the Apple device.
Ernest Doku, technology expert at uSwitch, said: “Today, BlackBerry is betting everything on its all-new operating system – and it’s an incredibly bold move.
“Just as bold is BlackBerry ditching its old Rim name – as well as its iconic keyboard – in its flagship Z10 device.”
The company has also released a new device with a keyboard, the Q10, for people who still want a phone with inbuilt Qwerty keys. Graham Stapleton, chief operating officer at Carphone Warehouse, said: “This launch presents a fantastic opportunity for BlackBerry to reaffirm itself as a key player in the mobile marketplace.
“There has been considerable buzz around the changes that will come with the introduction of BlackBerry 10 – it represents a giant leap forward in user experience that we’re sure customers will be keen to trial.”
There was even an effort to generate excitement over the colour of the device, with customers at Phones 4u the first to get the new Z10 in white.
Scott Hooton, chief commercial officer at Phones 4u said: “We have a long-standing heritage in offering BlackBerry smartphones to consumers and especially in securing BlackBerry colour exclusives.
“We know there’s a huge appetite for BlackBerry smartphones, and a large proportion of our customer base in early 2013 will be returning Black- Berry customers looking to upgrade their handset.”
Parent company Rim launched the first BlackBerry in 1999 as a way for busy executives to stay in touch with their clients, and cornered the market for government e-mails.
However, the company’s fortunes changed for the worst. BlackBerry now has a 3.4 per cent share of the global market, down from 20 per cent three years ago, and the company’s stock is down 90 per cent from its peak in 2008.
On Wednesday, shares fell in value as it was announced the new device would not be available in the US until March because of network issues.
Many analysts suggested that the new device would not be enough to revive the fortunes of the company and bring BlackBerry back into the market as a major player.
Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, said: “BlackBerry continues to face the twin demons of consumer-driven buying power and a chronic inability to appeal to mature market consumers. There is nothing in what we’ve seen so far of BB10 that suggests it will conquer the second of these demons, and the first is utterly out of BlackBerry’s control.
“We don’t expect a speedy exit from the market; with no debt, 80 million subscribers and profitability in the black in at least some recent quarters, the company can continue in this vein for years. But its glory days are past, and it is a matter of time before it reaches a natural end.”