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BlackBerry’s mistimed launch of smartphone in Korea

[THE INVESTOR] Blackberry, the self-proclaimed most secure smartphone maker, will be back in the Korean market on Sept. 20 since it pulled out of the domestic market in 2012.

The Canada-based smartphone firm will make a comeback with its Priv smartphone, the firm’s first smartphone running on Google’s Android operating system. 

The news of its comeback has been hailed by BlackBerry fans, but the company is facing a bumpy road ahead to make a success out of its comeback.

The timing, among other reasons, seems bad. The Priv handset, first released in global markets including the US in November in 2015, is already an outdated model in the eyes of the tech savvy and trendy consumers here.

The Priv’s somewhat unimpressive specifications for a high-end phone -- a 5.4-inch QHD curved display, a Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB RAM, 1.8megapixel camera and 32GB internal memory -- also seem less attractive to Korean consumers, who will have more, probably better, options to choose from later this month, including LG Electronics’ upcoming V20 smartphone, Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and Samsung Electronics'  Galaxy Note 7.

Some market watchers anticipate that the launch of the Priv is aimed at targeting consumers who are still nostalgic about BlackBerry phones.

The Priv comes with the company’s signature QWERTY keyboard, which will likely be the only appealing factor of the handset.

“It is hard to predict how many units BlackBerry will be able to sell here as the firm traditionally targets a small group of its loyal fans in the global market,” said a market watcher, adding that the marketing strategy will play a vital role in the uphill battle against bigger local players LG and Samsung.

By Kim Young-won (
Korea Herald Youtube