RIM promises budget-friendly BlackBerry 10 phones

An RIM executive tells Fierce Wireless that the company intends to hit all price points with its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Budget-conscious BlackBerry fans won't be left out of the upcoming switch to BlackBerry 10, according to a Research In Motion executive.

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RIM Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben told Fierce Wireless at this week's Consumer Electronics Show that the company plans to hit all "price points" with the new devices set to launch later this month.

Boulben said that RIM expects to eventually hit all levels of the market including high, middle, and low. The company expects to release at least six new BlackBerry 10 devices in 2013. The first devices are expected to be an all-touch screen device and one that still sports a full QWERTY keyboard. RIM will have an event on January 30 where it's expected to debut the new phones.

Boulben did not elaborate on when budget-friendly BlackBerry 10 devices would hit the market.

BlackBerry 10 is RIM's all-new operating system for its smartphones. The company, which has steadily been losing customers to rivals Google Android and Apple iPhone, has staked its future on the success of the new software. RIM plans to maintain its stronghold on messaging and typing ease. But the new software will also bring with it a new interface and better multimedia capabilities.

RIM's traditional customer base has been corporate and government users. But the company also has found a following in other segments of the market. The device has been popular among teens and users in developing markets because of its BlackBerry Messenger technology. BBM is instant messenger technology that allows people to communicate with other BlackBerry users over RIM's network, bypassing a carrier's SMS text messaging service. For people who use text messaging a lot, using BBM to communicate can save money. It's also a quicker way of communicating.

While RIM welcomes these consumers and has in the past launched several products for the market, it still hopes to address customers at the high end. But it's these corporate and government customers that RIM has been losing to Google and Apple over the last few years.

Still, Oliver Bussmann, chief information officer of enterprise software giant SAP, told IDG News Service this week that RIM still has loyal fans in the corporate market.

"I believe there is still a community of BlackBerry users out there," IDG quoted him as saying during an interview at CES in Las Vegas. "They love it."

SAP helps manage tens of thousands of iPads, iPhones, Android devices, and BlackBerry products among its corporate customers. The company is also a beta-tester for BlackBerry 10.

But RIM's success in launching BlackBerry 10 will largely rest on how the company executes the launch, Bussmann told IDG.

The company says it has a plan in place and that it's products will be fully featured from the start. The launch of BlackBerry 10 devices has been delayed several times.

One key thing RIM expects to have ready is a full suite of apps for the new BB10 devices. RIM's marketing chief told Fierce Wireless that the company will have at least 70,000 apps available for the BlackBerry 10 platform when the devices launch. And he reaffirmed that the company has strong backing from developers. To ensure that customers get the apps they want, Boulben told Fierce Wireless, the company has been targeting 600 apps in major markets. And so far, it offers about 90 percent of those apps.

 

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