It’s full steam ahead at the moment for BlackBerry and BlackBerry 10, following its initial international release in February, its subsequent introduction in the U.S., and topped off by an upbeat earnings call at the end of March, where the first million BB10 sales were celebrated. There’s definite momentum behind the reborn company, but where is it planning to go next?
According to Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies & Co, his research is showing an, “Additional two or three BlackBerry 10 models are likely to launch before year end,” adding we could see a mid-range version of the Q10 and the Z10, plus, “A 5-inch Z10 like device.” While the touchscreen and QWERTY phones are familiar territory for BlackBerry, a 5-inch smartphone/tablet hybrid would be completely new ground.
Feeding on the increased attention this relatively new market niche has gained, a big-screen BlackBerry would be up against some serious – and well-established – competition. Misek says the phablet could arrive at the end of the year, by which time it’s almost certain Samsung will have revealed the Galaxy Note 3 – the third incarnation of the device which arguably started the whole craze off in the first place.
We’ve heard some rumors regarding the other devices Misek mentions, with Sprint expected to grab a different touchscreen phone to the Z10, and images of a QWERTY-equipped R Series BlackBerry phone (possibly to be known as the R10) have recently been leaked online. At the end of March, a leaked roadmap showed an unidentified model – with a suspiciously large screen – called the U10 was set for a late 2013 launch, with the R10 penciled in for early 2014. Could the U10 be the BlackBerry 10 smartphone/tablet hybrid?
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has also talked up a forthcoming addition to the range, saying he’s excited about one in particular, and that it would take BlackBerry 10, “to another level in terms of the user experience.” Sounds like something more than just cheaper versions of what’s available is in the works.
While the U10 will sound great to many consumers, and the BlackBerry board will no doubt also think it’s a good idea, developers may think otherwise. It’s quite clear on BlackBerry’s developer support page that future BlackBerry smartphones will use either the 1280 x 720, or 720 x 720 pixel resolutions.
For a smartphone/tablet hybrid to make sense, particularly as far in the future as the end of this year, it’ll need to be 1080p if it’s to be taken seriously in the U.S. and Europe. BlackBerry is probably keen not to upset its hard-won army of developers so early in BlackBerry 10’s life by forcing a resolution change on them. Perhaps then, it’ll only be released as a 720p phone in certain emerging markets, where cost is the most important factor, or maybe Misek’s crystal ball is wrong. There’s no official news to share at this time, so for now we’ll put this one down as a possible.