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6/6/2013
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BlackBerry A10 Leaks As Q10 Marks U.S. Debut

BlackBerry claims most Fortune 500 firms are testing its devices, and details emerge about the successor to BlackBerry Z10.

BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Things are shaking at BlackBerry. The company's Z10 debuted earlier this year, the Q10 launched in the U.S. this week and now the A10 appears to be on deck for a fall introduction. Beyond that, BlackBerry claims that most Fortune 500 companies are testing the Z10, Q10 and BES 10, and that it's in talks with its rivals to get its new BlackBerry Messenger app preinstalled on other devices.

The BlackBerry A10 is slotted to replace the Z10 later this year. It will be an all-touch device and come in the familiar slab-style form with a large screen. Multiple reports suggest that it will be a classier, top-tier device when compared to the Z10. The A10's codename is Aristo. The device will look similar to the Samsung Galaxy S4, say those who've seen it, and isn't as square as the Z10. It will ship with BlackBerry OS 10.2, which is already in beta. Most other details about the device are still cloaked in secrecy, but the phone will have 2 GB of RAM and a revised Menu screen, according to CrackBerry.com. There's no word on the screen, the processor, camera or other vital specs.

Sprint will be the first carrier to offer the A10, reported CNET. Sprint spurned the Z10 smartphone and is instead offering only the Q10 from BlackBerry right now. Apparently Sprint chose to wait for the A10's arrival because it believes the device will have better prospects. Expect the A10 to be available before Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, the BlackBerry Q10, which has a QWERTY keyboard and full touch screen, reached most U.S. carriers this week. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless are all offering the device through their websites for $199.99 with a new contract.

[ BlackBerry and Google have expanded their messaging services to competing platforms, but for different reasons. Read BBM Vs. Google Hangouts: What's At Stake. ]

BlackBerry's BB10 devices are beginning to get traction in the enterprise, a significant development for the company, according to chief operating officer Kristian Tear. Speaking to Reuters, Tear said that 60% of Fortune 500 companies are testing its new devices and services. Business customers have been BlackBerry's traditional core subscriber base. In recent years, enterprises have been switching to Apple's iPhone. Tear thinks the Q10 may swing things back around.

"There are a lot of very loyal BlackBerry keyboard users out there who have been waiting for this, and I think, with the Q10, we will also be able to win back prior BlackBerry customers who are now trying other platforms," said Tear.

Tear also noted that the company is negotiating with other handset makers in the hope that they will agree to preinstall BlackBerry Messenger on their devices. "There is interest from other handset makers," said Tear.

BlackBerry Messenger is one of the defining features of BlackBerry smartphones. It is an over-the-top messaging service that lets BlackBerry users message one another directly and avoid carrier-based messaging fees. Though it has always been popular on BlackBerrys, it has plenty of competition from the likes of WhatsApp, ChatOn, iMessage, Skype, Viber and myriad others. BlackBerry announced in May that it will soon be available to Android and iPhone devices. Tear didn't specify which handset makers have expressed interest in including the service on their own phones.

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