DUBAI // Diehard BlackBerry fans who picked up their new Z10s today say the handset marks the start of the company’s fightback into the competitive touch-screen market.
Dozens of residents from Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain waited patiently today as operators transferred data from old phones to the new Z10 at Axiom Telecom stores in Dubai.
“Frankly we thought BlackBerry was dead but hopefully the Z10 will help it fight; monopoly of anything is not good,” said Arif Khan, a businessman in the information technology sector.
“Most of my friends have both the BlackBerry and the iPhone. The iPhone is for my personal use; the BlackBerry was given by my company. Once you get addicted, the BlackBerry is like poison, nothing comes close to the BBM.”
The improved BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) facility, a faster browser, and an all-new front camera were among reasons customers vouched for it.
“I have iPhone, I have Nokia, I have BlackBerry, but of all I like BlackBerry because of the BBM – there is nothing like this on any other phone,” said Eman Abdullah, a UAE army nurse. “The iPhone is very good but this new BlackBerry is something very special.”
A delighted Hamad Khalfan, a manager of a cement plant who drove from Ras Al Khaimah to pick up his phone, vowed to buy a Z10 for every member of his family of seven.
“I have iPhone and BlackBerry and with the iPhone I thought I moved ahead a few steps, but with the Z10 now I jump many more steps ahead. It processes quick and is heavy duty.”
Many retailers only received stocks after 10pm on Sunday, forcing store owners to ask mall managements for permission to stay open late.
Among the first to sell the new phone from 5pm on Sunday, Axiom said its outlet at Mall of the Emirates store catered to more than 1,000 customers. Managers there helped customers until 1.30am in the car park – way past closing hours.
“People came from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, they wanted to upload data and use multimedia immediately,” said Sharif Allabban, the store manager. “So we were in the car park with customers completing services.”
Service providers such as du said they were still in talks with BlackBerry about launching the BBM voice and video services, but retailers said the services could be used over Wi-Fi networks.
“The video is crystal clear and customers like the Z10 because it’s great to have video and voice available on the BBM, it’s practical and useful,” said Rohan Peiris, brand ambassador for BlackBerry at Jumbo Electronics.
“This is available through Wi-Fi and not yet through the service providers but we’re hoping it’s possible in the near future.
“Plus, people like the fast Z10 browser, the keyboard is fantastic and, unlike the iPhone, you can also remove the battery.”
Attractive apps still tilt the balance in favour of the iPhone, but BlackBerry has said developers are committed to creating apps for the BB10 operating system.
For some, the Z10 is enough reason to ditch one of their handsets.
“I never liked carrying two phones,” said Sanaa Hadidi, an art teacher. “I needed the BlackBerry and I have an iPhone. Now I can just use the BB because it’s all new and great.”