x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Retailers confident ahead of Dubai launch of BlackBerry 10

Electronic stores across the UAE are anticipating strong sales for BlackBerry's new smartphone range once it is launched on Wednesday.

Dubai is one of six cities chosen across the world for the global launch of BlackBerry 10. Brent Lewin / Bloomberg
Dubai is one of six cities chosen across the world for the global launch of BlackBerry 10. Brent Lewin / Bloomberg

Retailers across the UAE are anticipating strong sales and a pre-booking rush for BlackBerry's new offering once it is launched on Wednesday.

Canada's Research in Motion (RIM), which manufactures BlackBerry smartphones, is launching the BlackBerry 10, a platform that it hopes will bring it back from the brink of global extinction.

"I believe the BB10 will put BlackBerry back in the limelight as it is a progressive technology," said Neelesh Bhatnagar, the chief executive at the electronics retail chain Emax. "I feel it will be a success and will have a lot of pre-booking rush."

Anticipation has been high for the new operating system, which has shifted its focus by including new features such as BlackBerry Messenger Voice.

Faisal Al Bannai, Axiom Telecom's chief executive, has noted a "real buzz" among customers and is confident the new offering will bring in strong sales.

Dubai is one of six cities chosen across the world for the global launch, highlighting the region's prominence for RIM. The other five are New York, Toronto, Paris, Johannesburg and London.

"The assumption is that it will receive a very good reaction from customers for a couple of reasons," said Nadeem Khanzadah, the head of retail at Jumbo Electronics. "BB as a platform is still dominant in the [local] market unlike the rest of the world, where it's come down to 5 per cent. Here they have 20 per cent of the [mobile] market."

Attractive data plans offered by both Etisalat and du for BlackBerry phones have been among the main reasons for its success here, according to the retailers.

Pre-order sales are due to open on Wednesday and retailers are expecting for stock to arrive within ten to 12 days. While RIM has yet to announce the price of the new BB10 devices, retailers are expecting them to cost about Dh2,500 (US$680), placing the devices at the higher end of smartphone offerings.

"The days of relying on enterprise for growth are now over and RIM has shown it has realised that with this new operating system, the focus has to be front and centre on consumer experience," said Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer at Jacky's Electronics. "Whether this will be enough is left to be seen … as we expect to see a slew of new devices from Samsung, Apple, HTC and Nokia that could once again raise the bar for what consumers expect."

thamid@thenational.ae