Confirmed reports over the past several days have revealed that the first phone device to be rolled out under the new BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) - Foxconn (OTC:FXCOF) relationship, will be named Jakarta and will debut at Mobile World Congress tech fair in Spain on February.
This according to FocusTaiwan, which had an interview with the Chairman of the Hon Hai / Foxconn Technology Group, who said the following:
We are working with them to design a new device, and we will showcase multiple devices at the trade show in Barcelona in February
He did not specifying how many devices or what type of BlackBerry devices will be showcased. What is interesting however is that he used plural. However the word on the street is that Jakarta will be a low end device, and will primarily be sold in Indonesia. This is not a surprise, for as I have said before, Indonesia is a BlackBerry Nation.
But I would not be surprised if Jakarta would also be marketed in South Africa, where research firm World Wide Worx recently reported that BlackBerry's market share in South Africa recently increased from 18% to 23%, while Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) was flat at 19%, with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) only enjoying a 2% market share. In addition to the fact that South Africa is one of the few nations that have not dumped BlackBerry for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android OS, in South Africa, BlackBerry is by far the coolest brand.
Also interesting (again according to rumors) is that Jakarta will run on BlackBerry's new 10.2 OS, which means that BlackBerry is finally phasing out the old 7.0 OS. And while no one has seen the specifications or the actual device yet, rumor has it that Jakarta is expected to house a full touch display and it will not come with a QWERTY keyboard.
This is also not surprising, since the QWERTY keyboard is primarily loved by enterprise users, but the average consumer prefers a full touch display. As such, I think I will agree with BlackBerry's strategy in this regard.
From the looks of things, it seems that BlackBerry is not abandoning the retail customer as many thought it might. There are still many emerging markets where BlackBerry still has a very respected market share, and I will have to agree with the company that these markets should not be lost without a fight. Especially now that Foxconn will handle inventory and production, with BlackBerry having very little risk.
Another unknown is what the retail price for the Jakarta model will be. While BlackBerry can probably sell this device at a small premium compared to the many Chinese devices sold in these markets, $150 for the Jakarta model is probably the upper limit of what consumers would be willing to pay for a BlackBerry. This is because Chinese device makers keep rolling out cheaper and better devices that are hard to beat. Not only that, but most can be delivered to your doorstep with free international shipping.
As I have said before, BlackBerry is a different company today and will mainly be catering to large corporations, government organizations and the military. However that does not mean that it cannot take another shot at the retail segment, especially in markets that the BlackBerry brand still means something.
I think we will have to wait and see the specifications of this phone, as well as pricing, before we can even begin to guess what chances of success BlackBerry has, and if the Jakarta device can even get to first base.
My guess is that first base will be simple, but in order for BlackBerry to hit a home run, the new management team still needs some coaching. But depending on the specifications, who knows, BlackBerry might even hit a grand slam at the bottom of the night.