Report: Sprint to offer touchscreen BlackBerry 10 phone later this year

Lenovo comments spark another round of BlackBerry takeover rumors
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Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) expects to launch an all-touch BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) 10 smartphone in the second half of the year, according to an AllThingsD report. Meanwhile, takeover rumors once again swirled around BlackBerry after Lenovo's CEO said his firm might consider buying the company.

The AllThingsD report, which cited an unnamed source, said that Sprint will launch a device that is a follow-on smartphone to the Z10, BlackBerry's flagship touchscreen BB10 smartphone. Sprint has already committed to launching the Q10, which sports a Qwerty keyboard. A BlackBerry spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a Sprint spokesman.

Sprint is the only Tier 1 U.S. wireless carrier that won't sell the Z10. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) will start selling the Z10 on March 22 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, the same pricing that Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will offer. T-Mobile USA said the Z10 is available for pre-order for business customers starting today for $249.99 on a two-year Classic plan; the carrier said pricing for consumers may be different.

BlackBerry is counting on a strong showing in the U.S. market to help it revive sales figures. According to Gartner, BlackBerry captured 3.5 percent of the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter, down from 8.8 percent in the year-ago period. Similarly, research firm comScore found that BlackBerry captured 6.4 percent of the U.S. market in December 2012, down from 8.4 percent in September 2012.

Meanwhile, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing told French newspaper Les Echos that a deal with BlackBerry "could possibly make sense, but first I need to analyze the market and understand what exactly the importance of this company is." His comments come after Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming told Bloomberg in January that the company was "looking at all opportunities," including BlackBerry. The comments sent BlackBerry's shares up 14 percent on Monday. The company is scheduled to report its quarterly results March 28.

When asked in January about Wong's comments, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said he had no explanation for them. "As always with these topics, we will talk about things when they are ready to be talked about and ready to be announced," Heins told Bloomberg at the time. "There are other constituents in the process that need to be involved--if there would be anything."

Lenovo was the No. 8 handset maker in the world in the fourth quarter of 2012, marking the first time the company cracked the top 10, according to ABI Research. The company experienced breakout shipment growth in 2012, according to ABI. Lenovo has only been making handsets in earnest for about two years and it primarily sells these handsets in its home market of China, yet it is putting pressure on Chinese rivals like Huawei and TCL.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this Les Echos article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article

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