BlackBerry hopes to regain ground

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Monday, January 21, 2013


BLACKBERRY may have lagged behind in the smartphone game, but it hopes to change all that this year as they launch two new devices with a brand new operating system.

Research in Motion (RIM) Philippines general manager Cameron Vernest promises that 2013 will be exciting for BlackBerry as they will globally launch the BlackBerry 10 operating system come Jan. 30.

Vernest said RIM president and chief executive officer Thorsten Heins will be unveiling one touch and one qwerty smartphone at the global launch.

He admitted he could not discuss the new features at length until the global launch is made. However, he was willing to give teasers by identifying new features like their virtual keyboard, multi-task capabilities, Blackberry hub and time shift for the camera.

“This will be a fresh start for Blackberry,” he said, adding that he is excited to return to Cebu once the new units are out so he can personally demonstrate its new capabilities.

“We want to enhance the customer experience. We want to make it fun to own a BlackBerry,” he said.

He is unfazed by what most analysts say about Blackberry being too late in the game, saying their stock prices show otherwise.

He added that research firm Canalys placed BlackBerry at the second smartphone brand in the Philippines for the third quarter of 2012.

In the Philippines, they began an aggressive campaign to win back Blackberry users, rolling out a campaign called “Action Starts Here” to urge consumers to stay connected with their friends using BlackBerry Smartphones.

They chose to pick three types of barkadas to demonstrate how friends stay in touch.

They named the “it barkada” composed of Solenn Heussaff, Isabelle Daza, Liz Uy, Tim Yap and Raymond Gutierrez. Model couple Borgy Manotoc and Georgina Wilson composed the second group while Gerald Anderson, Enchong Dee and Rayver Cruz were chosen to represent the men’s group.

The company also offered 35 percent off on BlackBerry smartphones and unlimited local and international messaging with BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for P99 a month.

BBM, one of the brand’s top features will also get BBM voice, allowing users to make voice calls with any BBM plan. Vernest said this feature is useful to users who have relatives overseas, especially families of overseas Filipino workers.

Vernest also assured their support for the developer community continues, as they encourage more Filipinos to develop for the BlackBerry platform. The company points out that BlackBerry apps generate 40 percent more revenue than Android apps, citing a report by Vision Mobile.

This, Vernest, said, is why they hope more will develop for BlackBerry and why they support activities like the Pinoy BBDev Hackathon held last August, BlackBerry Jam Hack in Manila last October and the BlackBerry Port-A-Thon Meet-up early this month.

They also expanded the BlackBerry Academic Program to include Cebu-based Southwestern Univerisity last April. The university integrated BlackBerry development into their computer engineering and computer studies curriculum this school semester, with 35 students now enrolled.

For now, Vernest said there are no plans to integrate other operating systems into their phones, saying they prefer to develop their own and have control over it.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 21, 2013.

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