New BlackBerry Curve range unveiled
Duncan Alfreds, News24
Cape Town - Research In Motion (RIM) has introduced a new range of BlackBerry smartphones with the BlackBerry 7 operating system.
"These new models will build on the incredible success of the BlackBerry Curve line and further expand the largest global launch of BlackBerry smartphones in our history," said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at RIM.
BlackBerry smartphones have been on the decline in developed markets, particularly as iPhones increase their popularity and with the rise of Android-powered devices.
However, in developing markets like South Africa, these smartphones dominate, with up to 70% of devices here being a BlackBerry model.
Analysts have said that RIM is declining and cannot compete in the smartphones battle, but a senior official dismissed that.
"North America at the moment is a spec war. When we launched the BlackBerry Torch it was slated even before it left the doors," Rui Brites team leader for Product Management in Africa for RIM told News24.
The company announced one million new subscribers to its base in developing markets of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) recently.
"We're excited by the continued momentum we're experiencing across EMEA, and are appreciative of the amazing efforts of our application developer partners, our operator partners, our retail partners, and our distributor partners who have helped us make this happen," said Patrick Spence, Managing Director of the EMEA for RIM.
The new Curve phones feature the similar Qwerty keypad and trackball navigation in previous models along with a 5 megapixel camera with flash.
RIM says that the processor has been upgraded and this may rebuff some of the criticism levelled against the company's devices.
One of the reasons for the BlackBerry success in developing markets is the integrated unlimited data package usually included with the phone.
RIM sees itself as a partner to mobile operators and usually has protracted negotiations with the providers before launching a phone in a country.
"We see ourselves as an integral partner: We really believe we're a partner, not just another device vendor and it goes back to the solution. For R2 a day, you have access to your browsing," said Brites.
He said that BlackBerry users spent more time on the internet because of the data packages, particularly in developing markets.
"The BlackBerry proposition allows them to do all that without think about it, so it's driven adoption in the consumer market that's able to use all these features without having to think about 'How much is it going to cost me at the end of the month?'"
RIM says that the new Curve supports Near Field Communications (NFC) a technology that has the potential for transactions where the device can be used as a wallet.
"Additional enhancements to this next generation BlackBerry browser have also enabled smoother navigation and optimised HTML5 performance for incredible gaming and video experiences," the company says.
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