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BlackBerry CEO confirms no bargain bin smartphones

Published Mar 8th, 2013 1:52PM EST
BlackBerry CEO No Cheap Smartphones

A large part of why BlackBerry (BBRY) has survived over the past two years is because of the success it has achieved in emerging markets such as India and Indonesia. Chief executive Thorsten Heins confirmed that the company is readying less expensive devices for those markets and will look to continue to build its market share, however it has no plans of competing with any bargain-bin Asian rivals.

“[You need to] understand where you are playing and resist being talked into segments that you know will not serve your purpose and will not result in shareholder value,” Heins said, according to Bloomberg. “You will not see us getting into the 50-, 60-buck phone segment. This is not BlackBerry.”

The company started selling the BlackBerry Z10 in India for an unsubsidized price of 43,490 rupees, equal to roughly $800, last month. While the phone was mostly out of reach for a majority of India’s massive population, BlackBerry was hoping wealthier citizens would help the company build buzz for its new operating system before cheaper BlackBerry 10 devices arrive in the coming months.

“You will see new products being launched this year based on BlackBerry 10, all fully LTE-capable, the whole 10 yards, that are more geared towards those price bands where people need to be,” Heins said.

Despite the steep price of the Z10, the executive noted that the smartphone has done incredibly well in India and sold out in only two days.

“I got an emergency call from my manager from India saying, ‘I’m sold out after two days,’” he revealed. “So now we’re scrambling to reload those channels.”

BlackBerry will have a difficult time competing with Chinese manufacturers Huawei (002502) and ZTE (0763) , and will have to rely on its popular brand image to bring in new customers in these markets.