Mobiles & Tablets

BlackBerry tightens hold over enterprise market with smartphone Passport

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on November 25, 2017


Priced at ₹49,990, the device is targeted at professionals, says MD Sunil Lalvani

BlackBerry on Monday launched — Passport — its next big salvo in the smartphone game. Priced at ₹49,990, the new device attempts to bring the best of big screen features and the physical keyboard. In an interview with BusinessLine, Sunil Lalvani, Managing Director, BlackBerry India, explains the significance of the new launch. Edited excerpts:

Who will be your target customers for this device?

Firstly, we are targeting professionals — someone who would value the wide screen. For example, doctors, lawyers, media person. But, even for users who read a lot, this is useful because this is closest to reading an actual book. A book has 66 characters in a line, Passport gives 60. In comparison, normal rectangular devices would give 44-45 characters. The feature people would love the most is the keyboard, which also acts as the track-pad. It may appear to be 4.5-inch device versus 5-inch, but you are actually getting more real estate with this. In terms of the size and shape, it is been designed in the shape of an actual passport. With this size, it also gives us the advantage of having a superior 3450 mAh battery. It has 13 mega pixel rear camera and 2 megapixel front camera, 32GB inbuilt memory (expandable to 128GB). So, it is actually a device with a lot of innovations

But at ₹49,990 isn’t it priced high?

There is obviously a cost of hardware, which comes with specifications — big battery, RAM, Gorilla glass and the processor itself. We have been observing the spate of launches over these last few weeks and have been all about high-end launches — Apple, Sony and Samsung. Compare the specifications of these devices with Passport and then compare the price. We are targeting segments who want productivity and this device does drive productivity.

But your target consumer segment could be existing iPhone users. How would you convince them to shift to Passport?

That's why we are saying that Passport is meant for power professionals. This device has the highest specification that BlackBerry has ever made.

There would be those segment of users that would still say that ‘I can't afford it because I don't value the features’, but you can't please everyone. We are not looking at numbers. We continue to grow in the enterprise segment and this adds to that element. This device is made out of customers’ feedback.

What is your go-to-market plan?

Our strong hold traditionally has been the enterprise and our entry into that accounts of late — even if it is an iPhone or Android user — has been through the enterprise server business.

Over last one year we have deployed over 1000 BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES) 10 servers.

Our go to market into selling would be two approaches — online (e-commerce option) and the other would be traditional retail. Initially, we are not going to proliferate in tier-II, -III markets.

So is this the passport to your coming back into smartphone business?

The market segment for this is very different — it’s a premium, top of the line device in terms of specification, features and it is targeted at a certain group of profile. The one which is coming next — the Classic — is another one to watch out for. So both are targeted at different segments. It would be coming by end of this calendar year.

What else can we expect from BlackBerry?

Two weeks ago, we acquired a company called Movirtu, which offers virtual SIM provision. Many people go to the market saying they want a dual-SIM device.

But with the technology that Movirtu brings a single SIM can be virtualised into multiple SIMs. For example, a primary SIM on a device could be virtualised and have different numbers with the help of the operator.

Then one does not need to carry multiple devices or dual-SIM devices. For example, one number could be office number, second number could be weekend number and third number could only be for social media. It can be a powerful tool, especially for markets like India.

Published on September 29, 2014

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