BlackBerry Moves to Emerging Markets with Q5

Michael Teague  |

Seeking to solidify its presence in emerging markets, the company formerly known as Research in Motion Limited (BBRY) revealed the newest model on its BlackBerry 10 platform, the Q5. Much like the Q10 model, the Q5 has a physical keyboard, comes in 4 different colors, and is designed to be less expensive for consumers in parts of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South and Central America.

Prior to the release of its new Z10 and Q10 models earlier this year, the company seemed as though it was heading for an enormous crisis. Indeed, it was not all that long ago that the Blackberry phone was a serious competitor to Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone. The Z10 and Q10 were seen as the company’s last stand, but their unveilings were surrounded by confusion arising from oddly staggered release dates in different countries, as well as some strange marketing decisions.

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But while the new smartphones did not do all that well in the U.S., it turned out that Blackberry could still count on the popularity of its brand and design on a global scale. Last November, the company’s shares were trading for less than $8, but have risen nearly 94 percent since then, to their current price of $15.35.

The emerging markets move could turn out to be a very wise one for the company, not only because of the long-established appeal of the Blackberry model, but also because of the fact that Apple has not yet decided to wholeheartedly pursue such a course of action itself. This still leaves Blackberry to contend with Samsung, and other companies who have been eager to set up in emerging market economies, but the relative absence of the world’s still-dominant smartphone maker can only be a plus.

The news of the cheaper smartphone came at the same time as the company announced that it would be offering its once exclusive BlackBerry Messenger service as an app on competing smartphones, which could potentially be an indication that BlackBerry is making a bigger commitment to securing revenue from mobile advertising.

Shares dropped over 4 percent after the announcement to $15.22, though it would not be the first time in 2013 that a significant announcement from the company was received negatively, only to see the company recover and post gains almost immediately afterward.

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