BlackBerry Q5 announced in emerging market momentum kick

The smartphone maker will continue to pitch the emerging markets, once a lucrative market for the company, with a budget friendly keyboard-enabled smartphone.

The new BlackBerry Q5 Image: CNET

BlackBerry has announced a new hardware keyboard enabled BlackBerry Q5, designed with emerging markets in mind.

Announced by BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins at the BlackBerry Live conference on Tuesday, the launch coincides with the release of BlackBerry 10.1, the latest update to the company's next-generation smartphone software.

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The new BlackBerry 10.1-ready phone will be available on a budget and will launch in the second quarter. The new phone a 3.1-inch touch-screen display and a similar design to the BlackBerry Q10.

It's the third phone running the latest QNX-based software, alongside the touch-screen BlackBerry Z10 and the keyboard-enabled Q10.

The Q5 will launch in selected markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America, with availability beginning as soon as in July.

BlackBerry is returning to its unconventional roots: targeting the emerging market with a device that's relatively cheap to manufacture, and a low price point ideal for low-end budget users.

The company targeted India and Indonesia, two major emerging smartphone economies, around this time last year in a short-term revenue hit. Taking a leaf taken out of Nokia's book, where its wide feature phone selection of devices remain popular across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, BlackBerry sales maintained but were dinged by Android device sales, which were on the whole much cheaper.

Plumetting sales of its older BlackBerry line-up forced the company to reach out to markets that it had not specifically pitched at, but had been embraced for its cheaper devices. That is, compared to the high-end Android-based Samsung smartphones and the iPhone, which still hadn't reached many in such developing economies.

BlackBerry followed suit by releasing the Z10 in India in February as one of its flagship countries. Analysts said sales were low  in the region, with any benefits from the Z10 likely partially offset by the cannibalization of older BlackBerry Bold phones.