BlackBerry Unveils Z30 Smartphone

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On Wednesday, BlackBerry Ltd. (BB) unveiled its latest flagship,BlackBerry Z30, the fourth in its new range of BlackBerry 10 phones at a Kuala Lumpur event. Earlier this year, BlackBerry launched the touchscreen Z10 and keyboard-equipped Q10 to positive critical reviews but unimpressive sales. This summer, the company also unveiled the Q5, a cheaper version of the Q10 aimed initially at overseas markets.

The five-inch touchscreen device comes with myriad new features, including stereo speakers, a 1.7-gigahertz processor and “priority hub” software that learns a user’s most important contacts and conversations and collects them in one place.

The Z30 “rounds out the BlackBerry 10 portfolio and is designed for people looking for a smartphone that excels at communications, messaging and productivity,” said Carlo Chiarello, executive vice-president for products at BlackBerry.

The company is counting on its new range of BlackBerry 10 phones to deliver a return to sales growth and profitability

The stock fell 1.5 percent to $10.40 at the close in New York. The shares have dropped 12 percent this year and remain more than 90 percent below their 2008 high.

Sales two quarters ago missed analyst estimates by almost 1 million units, and Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry said last month it would consider putting itself up for sale or forging new partnerships. BlackBerry will report fiscal second-quarter earnings on Sept. 27.

BlackBerry, which already trailed Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems, also fell behind Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Windows Phone in the first half of this year, IDC said. BlackBerry’s operating system will account for 2.7 percent of smartphones this year, declining to 1.7 percent by 2017, IDC said.

Constrained by its shrinking market share, BlackBerry said in May it would begin offering its BBM instant-messaging software as a free application on its bigger rivals’ devices. The app will be available Sept. 21 for Android and the following day for iPhone, BlackBerry said on Wednesday in a separate statement.

BlackBerry will begin rolling out the Z30 next week through its global carrier partners, starting in the United Kingdom and the Middle East and expanding to other markets in the lead-up to the holiday season.

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