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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 10:11 AM | 12-05-2014

Blackberry fights back with I’nesian phone

BlackBerry will this week launch a new budget handset in Indonesia.

This is a crucial move in the smartphone maker's fightback against Samsung and Apple.

The Z3 -- designed for Indonesia but will likely be introduced in other emerging markets later -- is the first new BlackBerry phone since the appointment of John Chen as new chief executive in November.

The handset is also the first to be produced from the Canadian firm's partnership with Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn, which makes gadgets for Apple, and is a major test of whether the new strategy will work.

The device is likely to be a hit in Indonesia, where many have remained loyal to BlackBerry.

But it may already be too late for a comeback by the company that has been unable to keep up with competition from Apple's iPhone and handsets using the Google Android operating system.

Actually, recent years have been dismal for BlackBerry, and it has suffered heavy losses. Chief executive Thorsten Heins was removed and thousands of jobs were cut.

Since Chen took over, there have been some signs of improvement. The company reported a loss of US$423 million in the three months to March 1, which was not as bad as had been feared.

As part of its turnaround strategy, the smartphone maker announced the tie-up with Foxconn in December, which involves transferring to the Taiwan company manufacturing and inventory management, while allowing BlackBerry to focus on software and services.

The Z3 has a five inch (13 centimetre) touchscreen, like most of BlackBerry's newest handsets which do not have the physical keyboards of the older devices.

It is designed specifically with Indonesian consumers in mind. The BBM messaging service is loaded with pictures of local cartoon characters for users to send to one another. Its limited edition comes with “Jakarta” engraved on it.

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