News / Science & Technology

BlackBerry Opens Up Messaging, Unveils Mid-Tier Smartphone

Thorsten Heins, president and CEO at BlackBerry holds up the new BlackBerry 10 mobile device at a conference, May 14, 2013, in Orlando, Florida.
Thorsten Heins, president and CEO at BlackBerry holds up the new BlackBerry 10 mobile device at a conference, May 14, 2013, in Orlando, Florida.
Reuters
BlackBerry  announced plans on Tuesday to offer its popular instant messaging system on rival devices and introduced a new mid-tier smartphone targeted at countries where its faded brand remains strong.
 
Tapping into its popularity outside North America, BlackBerry said the new Q5 smartphone would be available in selected markets in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
 
It gave no prices, but it will clearly target a younger, more price-sensitive crowd with the device, which will be available in colors including pink, red and white.
 
The new phone includes the tiny qwerty keyboard that still sets BlackBerry apart from most rivals.
 
BlackBerry, under its old name Research In Motion, virtually invented the concept of on-your-hip email with a series of blocky devices with tiny thumb-operated keyboards.
 
But in recent years it has bled market share to Apple Inc's iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co's popular line of Galaxy devices powered by Google's Android operating system, forcing it into big job cuts, and a huge rethink of its products and priorities.
 
“You know it hasn't been that easy and you also know there is still a lot of work to do, but man, we have reached solid ground with this company," Chief Executive Thorsten Heins told delegates at the BlackBerry Live conference in Orlando, Florida.
 
To those who ask if the company can survive the drastic changes he brought in, Heins said: “We are not only still here, we are firing on all cylinders as a company.''
 
In a new shift of direction, Heins said BlackBerry would offer BlackBerry Messaging, free of charge, to consumers using rival phones.
 
“This is such a great experience, it is just too good to keep it only to ourselves. It's time to bring BBM to a greater audience," he said to cheers from the audience. BBM is used for 10 billion messages a day, he said.
 
BlackBerry long relied on BBM to keep customers tied to its own devices, so the shift recognizes a new reality where many customers have already fled.
 
Heins said he is confident that BlackBerry can offer the service more broadly without losing its own customers.
 
BlackBerry has gambled its future on a new line of devices using its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, and Heins said the two new BB10 smartphones BlackBerry has already started selling have given it its most successful launch year.
 
The touchscreen Z10 device is now available in many countries, including the United States, and Heins said the keyboard Q10 phone will be launched in the United States next month.
 
BlackBerry's volatile shares were down more than 2 percent at $15.22 in New York late on Tuesday morning.

You May Like

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs