Analyst Peter Misek believes that only two or three new models will launch by year's end. Of these, he predicts there will be a mid-range touch device and a mid-range QWERTY device. Misek's comments about mid-range devices fall in line with reports published in recent weeks about these possible smartphones. He came to these conclusions based on checks with Asian component suppliers.
Misek also thinks at least one of these new smartphones will be a 5-inch phablet. He's probably wrong about that. Here's why: BlackBerry needs mid-range and entry-level smartphones more than it needs another flagship smartphone.
[ Blackberry says reports of high Z10 return rates are "false and misleading." Read Blackberry Denies High Z10 Return Rate. ]
The Z10 and Q10, announced earlier this year, both qualify as high-end devices. They have top-notch build quality and boast features that are on par with flagship devices from other smartphone makers. At most, BlackBerry might field one more high-end device this year, but it likely won't.
"We intend over time as we transition the portfolio to have a full range of devices," said BlackBerry CMO Frank Boulben during an interview back in January. "A full range" implies that some BlackBerrys will be high-end, some mid-range, and others entry-level.
Park of BlackBerry's growth strategy for 2013 is to expand its reach in emerging markets. In India, for example, BlackBerrys are still popular. Despite their popularity, BlackBerry can grow there only with low-cost smartphones, not high-end phablets.
Another reason Misek's assertion about a 5-inch BlackBerry phablet is off: BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said that the Z10's 4.2-inch touch display will be the only big screen size it offers this year. The reason? To make life easier for developers. By giving developers only one screen size to target, it will help them get new apps to BlackBerry World sooner and with fewer headaches.
While anything is possible, BlackBerry has been pretty clear so far this year about what to expect in terms of its hardware. As much as some people might like to see a phabletized BlackBerry, chances are slim that we'll see such a device this year.
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