BlackBerry unveils Z30 phablet, stays mum on U.S. carrier support

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) announced its long-rumored phablet smartphone, the 5-inch Z30, but the company, under a cloud of uncertainty as it contemplates a sale, did not announce U.S. carrier partners or availability.

blackberry z30 phablet

Click here for details on the new BlackBerry Z30.

The Z30 has been rumored for months, and reports from multiple news outlets, including CNET and AllThingsD, have indicated that at least Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint (NYSE:S) will launch the device this holiday season. For BlackBerry, the device represents its latest attempt to grab the limelight and build momentum for its BlackBerry 10 platform. However, the Z30 was announced with little fanfare and its unveiling comes days ahead of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) launch of the new iPhone 5s and 5c.

The Z30 sports a 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 Super AMOLED display, and, according to Engadget, a dual-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon S4 Pro processor. The phone has a 2,880 mAh battery, which BlackBerry claims can provide up to 25 hours of battery life, as well as an improved antenna that the company claims will boost reception in low signal areas. More important than the beefed up specs, according to BlackBerry, are the software enhancements that are part of BlackBerry 10.2. They include an update to the company's Hub communications inbox, called Priority Hub, which can now learn what conversations and what people are important to users by culling data from their email and social networking accounts. Additionally, BlackBerry 10.2 sports an improved version of BlackBerry Messenger that provides pop-up previews of new messages inside other apps and previews of received messages from the phone's lock screen.

BlackBerry said that the Z30 will launch from select carriers and retailers around the world beginning next week in the United Kingdom and Middle East, and all other regions going into the holiday season. The company said specific pricing and availability will be announced by partners.

Wells Fargo analysts Maynard Um and Munjal Shah wrote that while the Z30 should lift BlackBerry's shipments somewhat, its success will be dependent on carrier availability, pricing and consumer adoption. "We would also note that marketing will be an important element to raise the awareness of the launch," they wrote in a research note. "While the Z30 helps to bring the focus back to the fundamental business, we believe investors' attention is focused on a potential take-out. Barring this, we maintain our view that BlackBerry could be profitable if it scales back to become a more focused and smaller company. We believe this cost story has to become a more critical discussion barring a take-out or improvement in end-market demand for its products."

In other BlackBerry news, BlackBerry Messenger is reportedly set to make its debut on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android this Friday, and become available on Apple's App Store as soon as Saturday, according to BlackBerry news site CrackBerry. BlackBerry declined to comment, according to CNET.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that BlackBerry hopes to conclude a sale of the company by November. Likely in response to sluggish sales, in late August the company's board formed a special committee to explore "strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment." The possibilities for the company include joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances or a sale of BlackBerry, the company said.

For more:
- see this release
- see this The Verge article
- see this CNET article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this Engadget article
- see this separate CNET article

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