Upbeat BlackBerry launches new Q5 qwerty smartphone

BlackBerry CEO says Q10 will come to U.S. carriers in June, not May; announces BlackBerry World store now has 120k apps

The annual BlackBerry Live conference was kicked off Tuesday with the launch of a new 3.1-in. qwerty smartphone, the BlackBerry Q5, that's slated to go on sale this summer in emerging markets, but not in the U.S.

In addition to unveiling the Q5 phone, CEO Thorsten Heins announced that the qwerty BlackBerry Q10 will available from U.S. carriers starting in early June, not late May, as BlackBerry had previously said.

The Q10 device is already available in 14 other countries.

Also, the company said that the BlackBerry 10.1 operating system update, which ships on the Q10, is available for Wi-Fi download to the touchscreen Z10 starting Tuesday. The Z10 launched in February.

Heins said today that the BlackBerry 10.1 update won't reach U.S. Z10 users until later this month.

Despite some delays in releasing the 10.1 update and shipping the Q10 in the U.S., Heins struck an upbeat tone, noting that BlackBerry's most recent quarter was profitable, showing that the firm is recovering from months of lagging shipments and declining subscribers and sales.

"We are definitely in the race," Heins said.

"In one short year, we have brought this company to a profitable quarter. The most successful launch year for BlackBerry is well underway. It hasn't been an easy journey, but man, we have reached solid ground with this company," he added.

BlackBerry didn't announce its pricing plan for the Q5, and few specs were made available.

The company did say that the Q5 will be available in black, white, red and pink and will run BlackBerry 10, which includes BlackBerry Messenger videoconferencing capabilities.

BlackBerry Messenger is very popular in emerging Aisan markets, as well as in Europe. Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi tweeted that the Q5 appears to be intended to serve markets where it can take advantage of Messenger's popularity with younger users.

After BlackBerry said that Q10 shipments in the U.S. would start in early June, Verizon Wireless tweeted it will deliver the smartphone in June, while Sprint said it will have the device available in "late summer."

During a keynote presentation, Heins also showed off a live video call from a BB10 smartphone to a console inside of a Bentley automobile that was driven onto the stage.

Noting that it is dangerous to drive with a video call on a car's console, BlackBerry said the BB10 software will shut off the video when the car is motion. The audio will continue running, he said.

Heins also said that BlackBerry World app store now has 120,000 apps, and a global network of 650 carriers that reach 175 countries.

The number of apps available for BB10 phones has been a major concern to analysts and to some corporate customers. The list of 120,000 apps remains far below the number of apps available from Apple's App Store and Google Play.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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