BlackBerry in NZ comeback bid, with Z10 backed by Telecom, Vodafone


BlackBerry is making a comeback bid in the NZ market, with a launch for its iPhone-like Z10 on June 4.

Vodafone and Telecom tell NBR they will carry the Z10. Telecom is already running a promoted post campaign on Facebook.

The more conventional Q10 - which has a more traditional BlackBerry design incorporating a hard keypad - is still being assessed.

2degrees has never supported BlackBerry servers, which are needed to take full advantage of the platform.

BlackBerry has fallen so far it now often fails to even gain a mention in the "What's the best smartphone?" debate. 

But pundits say the Canadian company's new BlackBerry 10 software, which powers both the Z10 and Q10, plus the new handsets' sharp hardware, makes it worth another look.

Wall Street Journal tech doyen Walter Mossberg, who has been using a Z10, for the past week, says it offers a much more iPhone or Android-like experience.

The Z10 has "the best virtual keyboard on a smartphone", with very clever predictive text.

ABOVE: BlackBerry's official demo video for its new Z10. While apps and cloud features are weak, but the BlackBerry 10 software looks undeniably slick on this 4.2-inch display, 130g handset (actually, BlackBerry's second attempt at an all-touchscreen handset, counting the sluggish, ill-starred Storm). Other tech specs, including a dualcore processor, 8 megapixel camera and HD video, are standard for any smartphone these days.

Mossberg was also impressed by the Hub, which aggregates all email accounts, social media feeds and BlackBerry Messenger into a single update stream.

That's the good news.

The bad: Mossberg criticises the fact there is no native cloud ecosystem for storing or synching files online (like Apple's iCloud, Google's Drive and Microsoft's SkyDrive). Although the third-party Dropbox could be used, it was less satisfying (Wot no Mega app? - Editor).

He fears the Z10 will be a "tweener" phone. BlackBerry users will find it too unfamiliar, and Android and iPhone users will be put off by the lack of apps. There are 70,000 apps available, which sounds a lot but is only around 10% of those offered by Apple or Android, and key apps like Gmail, Google Maps, Instagram, Spotify and Pandora were missing at the US launch in March.

While Google the apps are still AWOL (and may always be, amid commerical arm wrestling), the latter three are now all on board - one benefit of the delayed local launch.

It's taken a long, long time for BlackBerry to create the Z10, a handset that can go toe-to-toe with iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. And although it's lost so much ground in New Zealand, as elsewhere, BlackBerry's tight security and buttoned down centralised control has seen it cling to some key accounts, including Auckland Council.

It'll be tough, but at least BlackBerry's finally got something to fight with.

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