BlackBerry announced the third device in its BlackBerry 10-powered range, Q5, which it described as “new, youthful and fun”.
The device is a spiritual successor to the vendor’s Curve line, which has appealed to mass-market consumers beyond the enterprise/prosumer users targeted by its higher-end devices.
According to the company, Q5 will be launched from July in markets including selected markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
With BlackBerry having lost momentum in recent months in important markets such as the US, the launch of a mass-market device targeting other regions will be a good way for the company to drive BlackBerry 10 volume.
This will enable it to exploit economies of scale for expenses related to devices powered by the platform, as well as providing a larger target user base to appeal to developers.
But the company will not be without its challenges. The customers it is looking to appeal to are cost-sensitive, meaning that Q5 will need to be priced competitively, which will have an impact on profit margin.
And unlike previous generation BlackBerry devices, it will not benefit from service fees paid by users, which has provided it with a useful revenue stream in the past.
In addition, it will find itself competing with a range of low-cost Android device makers, a challenge which rival Nokia has recently acknowledged is impacting its own mass-market business.
While it is still early days, the fact that BlackBerry also announced it will offer BlackBerry Messenger clients for Android and iOS means that the company is giving up one of its previous unique selling points.
The closed BlackBerry social network has been an important tool in attracting younger users to the platform.
And there have also been question marks over the continued appeal of QWERTY devices, as user taste shifts toward touch-screen devices. Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, said earlier this year that even in markets like Indonesia and the Philippines, where consumer QWERTY devices have proved popular for messaging, there is a “shift to full touch devices that is happening very rapidly”.