In preparation for the launch of its BlackBerry 10 devices on January 30, Research In Motion (RIM) has changed the name of its official software portal for BlackBerry devices, and also dropped the prices of applications available through it.
“In preparation for launch of BlackBerry 10, we will be starting the first wave of our planned pricing update in BlackBerry World. This first wave will update the British Pound (GPB) and Euro (EUR) currencies. Shortly after we will be rolling out updates to other currencies and will be informing you in advance of those changes,” RIM announced in a blog post.
More importantly, however, the pricing of its massively leaked BlackBerry Z10 smartphone has also been made available through, yes, more leaks.
According to a UK retailer’s database, the Z10 with an internal storage of 32GB will cost £480 (Dh2,774) without a SIM. That means that the new device will be cheaper than the iPhone 5 (Dh2,999) but more expensive than the 32GB Samsung Galaxy S3 (Dh2,299).
On its blog post, the company acknowledged that the pricing of applications in the BlackBerry World had been lowered, at least in some markets around the world.
“Currently, the lowest tier in the UK is £1.00. Once the price tier changes are implemented, the lowest tier will be £0.75. For Euros the tier will vary by country. For example, in France the current lowest tier is €0.99. With the pricing tier changes, the new lowest tier will be €0.89,” the post noted.
RIM’s Z10 smartphone will be unveiled in six international cities, including Dubai, on Wednesday, January 30, 2013. The Z10 is an all-touch handset that RIM is rumoured to have loaded with some of the best hardware ever included inside a BlackBerry handset (LTE-support, dual-core processors, lots of RAM, and plenty of storage).
The company, which has seen better days in the past, is famously betting the farm on its upcoming offerings, which have generated enough pre-launch hype among developers and enthusiasts.
Shares in the company are hovering near a six-month high as the market expects the devices to do well. Indeed, the launch of the two BlackBerry 10 devices on Wednesday will in effect be a make-or-break moment for the beleaguered RIM.
BlackBerry was, indeed, once the market leader in the smartphones domain with its famous BBM messaging service and unhindered email access but the company has profusely bled market share to more nimble rivals such as Samsung and Apple in the past few years.
Despite the recent upsurge, RIM’s stock is at about one-eighth of its valuation in 2008 and the company is hoping to regain some of its past glory with the new devices.
The lack of user-friendly apps has often been cited as one of the primary reasons for BlackBerry’s decline, especially in comparison with Google’s Android platform (which powers the likes of Samsung and HTC smartphones) and Apple’s iOS (the platform behind the iPhone range of phones).
RIM is indeed trying to address that shortcoming by offering dollops of money to developers to create apps for its new platform and devices, as well as allowing others’ apps to run on its devices. In a conference call last week, the new CEO of RIM, Thorsten Heins, announced that BlackBerry 10 smartphones will have an Android player, allowing them to run third-party software created for this rival platform.
This will definitely be good news for RIM as app-hungry users will not feel constrained by BB10’s lack of apps if it allows Android apps to run on the devices.
Still, whether or not the new BlackBerry10 devices will live up to the hype – we’ll know in two days from now. Watch this space.