**Editor's Note: Click here for our list of April's hottest selling smartphones to see how BlackBerry fared against the competition.**
Despite mediocre to tepid sales, a lot of attention has been heaped on the BlackBerry Z10, the Canada-based company's first smartphone that runs the new BlackBerry 10 operating system. But it's the just-announced Q5 that might turn out to be the brand's new jewel.
CEO Thorstein Heins unveiled the Q5 at an event in Orlando this week, saying it's "going to be a big hit." But if you're not in an emerging market, you might not be able to find one. The Q5 is a lower-end model aimed at countries where consumers don't have computer access but need a phone that has Internet access.
“Despite its struggles in the U.S. and European markets, BlackBerry remains a premium brand in emerging markets," noted Yankee Group Vice President Carl Howe, commenting specifically on a Tech Crunch article. "The Q5 allows emerging-market consumers who might not be able to afford BlackBerry’s Z10 and Q10 smartphones to still buy into the BlackBerry experience and ecosystem. It will likely become an anchor smartphone in those markets and could become BlackBerry’s best-selling device just as the BlackBerry Curve did because the Q5 can reach such a large audience."
Ovum analyst Adam Leach echoed Howe's sentiments about the significance of the Q5.
"Blackberry is clearly aiming to replicate the success of the Blackberry Curve in emerging markets, doing so will help the company establish the Blackberry 10 platform in the market; however, Blackberry has significant competition in this area with a number of handset manufacturers championing an array of low-cost Android devices as well as Nokia’s Asha 501," Leach said. "The crucial aspect of the Q5 launch will be its price and if Blackberry can address the sub-$100 smartphone opportunity."
Leach pointed out how emerging markets accounted for more than one in every six (17 percent) smartphones shipped in 2011. (There were 450 million shipped overall.) Ovum expects that ratio to rise to two in five (40 percent) by 2017, when a staggering 1.7 billion smartphones will be shipped around the globe.
Meantime, Sprint announced this week that it will carry the Q10, the second BlackBerry 10-based smartphone, joining the rest of the major U.S. operators with plans to offer it. The carrier didn't give pricing or release-date details.
The Q10, unlike the Z10, has a physical keyboard. Other features include near-field communication (NFC); 3G/4G mobile hotspot capability; Wi-Fi access; integrated speaker; Bluetooth; and three microphones with noise reduction.
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