BlackBerry has placed itself on the selling block, but that hasn’t stopped the company from rolling out a new flagship smartphone—one that follows the industry trend of “super-sizing” hardware.
The BlackBerry Z30 features a five-inch AMOLED touchscreen, a 1.7-GHz processor, stereo speakers, and a larger battery that BlackBerry claims will deliver up to 25 hours of “mixed use” on a single charge. New antenna technology boosts the device’s connectivity in low-signal areas.
In addition to the plus-size hardware, the Z30 includes an upgraded version of BlackBerry 10, the company’s mobile operating system. BlackBerry 10.2 features a “Priority Hub” that allows the user to more easily manage conversations and notifications across email and social networks; there’s also the ability to respond to BBM messages without exiting an open app.
But it’s questionable whether a new flagship phone—no matter what its features—can reverse BlackBerry’s downward trend. Research firm Gartner estimated BlackBerry’s share of the global smartphone market at 2.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013, down from 5.2 percent in the same quarter last year—placing it not only behind Google Android and Apple iOS, which effectively split the mobile-device market between them, but also Microsoft’s Windows Phone. BlackBerry’s original “hero” devices running BlackBerry 10, the Z10 and Q10, failed to have much market impact upon their release earlier this summer.
BlackBerry’s Board of Directors has created a Special Committee to explore what the company calls “strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale,” which includes the possibility of selling all assets to a third party. Even if nobody opts to take on BlackBerry’s phone-manufacturing operations, analysts suggest the company’s patents are potentially worth billions. “BlackBerry will pursue every opportunity to create value for shareholders,” BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins told the audience at the company’s annual meeting in July.
In the weeks following the Board of Director’s announcement, however, interest in purchasing BlackBerry is reportedly “tepid,” and it remains to be seen whether a suitor will step forward.