BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) announced the pricing and availability of its new BlackBerry Z10 today (30 January 2013), but said that they couldn’t confirm when it’s expected to come to South Africa or what it will cost yet.
However, 8ta confirmed today that it would offer BlackBerry 10 devices through its stores from 1 March 2013.
Along with the Z10, a second BlackBerry 10 device that boasts a hardware keyboard, which BlackBerry is calling the BlackBerry Q10, will start to become available from April 2013.
Questioned about local availability Rory O’Neill, VP of product & channel marketing at BlackBerry for EMEA, explained that there are three factors that determine when a device is ready to launch in a market:
- Government regulations;
- Lab testing (BlackBerry has 150 labs around the world with various carriers, O’Neill said); and
- Commercial readiness
O’Neill indicated that government regulations aren’t an area of concern for the launch of BlackBerry 10 in South Africa, which leaves testing and commercial factors.
Although O’Neill did not wish to elaborate further, it is difficult not to connect the dots to the BlackBerry data plans in South Africa that are still in flux.
Industry speculation suggests that the flat-rated R59/month for BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) that has been so popular in South Africa will not exist in its current form on BlackBerry 10 devices.
When asked, O’Neill said that they aren’t ready to discuss BlackBerry data plans in South Africa yet as they are still talking through the commercial terms with carriers.
It seems unlikely that BlackBerry 10 will launch in South Africa before the details around BIS are hashed out with our mobile network operators.
That said, 8ta confirmed today that it would offer BlackBerry 10 devices through its stores from 1 March 2013.
International launch, pricing
Elsewhere in the world, the BlackBerry Z10 is expected to become available from Thursday (31 January 2013), with the Canadian launch set for 5 February 2013, O’Neill said.
Asked about pricing, O’Neill said that when the device launches in the UK tomorrow and be included in contracts that run from £36 to £42 per month.
In the US the BlackBerry Z10 is expected to cost $199 when subsidised on a contract, and $599 when bought off-contract. As per the US norm, these prices exclude sales tax.
Africa important to BlackBerry
While O’Neill said he couldn’t get into specifics about African and South African launch dates, he said that Africa is important to BlackBerry.
“We have great customers here,” O’Neill said.
He added that by any measure, Africa is the fastest growing smartphone market in the world.
BlackBerry is the biggest smartphone platform in South Africa and Nigeria, while Nigeria is the second-fastest growing market next to China, O’Neill said.
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