Sat, Feb 09, 2013 - Page 15 News List

BlackBerry likely to withdraw from Japan: reports

AFP, TOKYO

Troubled smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd will not launch its new models in Japan, reports said yesterday, effectively heralding a pull-out from a booming market where it is being beaten by Apple Inc.

The firm, which is hoping that its BlackBerry 10 series will turn around flagging global fortunes, will not sell the handsets in the country, the Nikkei business daily said.

The report said BlackBerry’s share of the Japanese market had slumped to 0.3 percent from about 5 percent in the past.

The paper gave no time frame.

Domestic smartphone shipments rose 40 percent year-on-year to an estimated 14 million in the April-to-September period, but BlackBerry’s sales were believed to be only several tens of thousands, the paper said, without naming its sources.

Given its falling share, the company judged it too costly to develop a Japanese-language version of its new operating system, it said.

While BlackBerry helped create a culture of mobile users glued to smartphones nearly a decade ago, many of those customers have since moved on to Apple’s products or phones running Google Inc’s Android operating system.

Until last week the firm was known as Research In Motion Ltd (RIM), but rebranded itself with the launch of the BlackBerry 10 platform and Z10 and Q10 handsets.

The Wall Street Journal cited a spokeswoman for BlackBerry, who said that the new models would not be rolled out in Japan “at this time.”

“We are in the process of launching BlackBerry 10 globally in key markets and we are seeing positive demand for the BlackBerry Z10 in countries where it has already launched. Japan is not a major market for BlackBerry and we have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices there at this time,” spokeswoman Amy McDowell was quoted as saying.

“However, we will continue to support BlackBerry customers in Japan,” she added.

NTT DoCoMo Inc, the carrier who started distributing BlackBerry in Japan in 2006, said that it was discussing new product launches with the firm while continuing to provide customer support.

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