The BlackBerry Z30 will finally make its way to the US via Verizon Wireless, but will anyone care?
Vivek Bhardwaj, BlackBerry's head of software portfolio, confirmed to reporters in a briefing Monday that Verizon would be the "exclusive" launch partner for the Z30, which launches sometime in November for $200 and a two-year contract.
The supersize BlackBerry emerges amid increasing questions about its future. The company is currently shopping itself around, and could just as likely be acquired as broken up. It has also said it would retreat from the broader consumer market, focusing on big businesses and power users.
It's with that uncertainty that the Z30 makes its debut. It appears as if Verizon's "exclusive" arrangement is less about having locked up a deal with BlackBerry, and more about the lack of interest from rival carriers. Sprint, for instance, was previously slated to offer a touch-screen BlackBerry, but has since backed off from those plans.
Bhardwaj declined to comment about getting the Z30 on other carriers, but noted that BlackBerry was ready to ship phones to other carriers if they requested it. He said there was nothing in the deal with Verizon that would prevent BlackBerry from offering an AT&T or T-Mobile version of the phone.
"We're not solely tied to Verizon," Bhardwaj said.
As such, it doesn't appear as if Verizon will be providing any special promotional or marketing support for the Z30. Bhardwaj declined to comment, referring the question back to the carrier. He also declined to talk too much about BlackBerry's own promotional effort, but seemed to hint the campaign would focus more on the new BlackBerry 10.2 platform than on an individual device.
Hands-on with the BlackBerry Z30
A Verizon representative only noted there was an opt-in page for interested consumers looking to buy the Z30, but didn't provide any more insight into any planned campaigns.
The Z30 rounds out BlackBerry's portfolio of products, which will allow carriers to more easily sell the phones, Bhardwaj said.
It's hard to blame Verizon for the lack of enthusiasm. The Z10 was a massive flop, causing BlackBerry to lose nearly $1 billion in the fiscal second quarter after it had to write off unsold inventory.
Bhardwaj dismissed the financial concerns surrounding BlackBerry, insisting that most consumers don't worry about the business prospects or potential of a company when buying their products.
"The best thing we can do is focus on bringing out new products," he said.
Still, it's right for consumers to question whether BlackBerry has a future in smartphones. Companies tend to be gun shy when talking about new products, and Bhardwaj unsurprisingly declined to comment.
"Check the Internet," he quipped, a nod to the frequent leaks seen in the smartphone business.