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Verizon to put BlackBerry Z30 on sale Thursday for $200 with contract

Future remains uncertain for new 5-in. touchscreen smartphone and its maker

November 13, 2013 12:43 PM ET

Computerworld - The new BlackBerry Z30 smartphone with a 5-in. display goes on sale Thursday online, exclusively at Verizon Wireless, for $199.99 with a two-year contract, the carrier said in a blog.

BlackBerry Z30
The BlackBerry Z30 smartphone.

Sales of the Z30 have been underway over the past two weeks in some countries . They are not expected to be robust in the U.S., given the general reaction to the downturn in the BlackBerry business in recent months. BlackBerry's Z10 smartphone didn't sell well in the U.S. last spring and summer, even though it was sold by the four major U.S. carriers.

The Z30 has been touted in reviews for its for its bright, clear display and a software upgrade to BlackBerry 10.2 that refines the unified message box called the Priority Hub. It also has a powerful 2880 mAh battery that can last 25 hours with mixed use, although the battery is not removable. Computerworld also recently reviewed the phone.

Despite impressive new features, the Z30 suffers from the same problem as other BlackBerry phones: It lacks apps and support from BlackBerry developers. The Z30 will work with 130,000 applications in the BlackBerry World store, a fraction of the 1 million or more in either Apple's App Store or Google's Play store.

It's hard to say if the smaller app ecosystem hurts the Z30 as much as the latest developments at BlackBerry. In early November, the company appointed a new interim CEO, former Sybase CEO John Chen, and took a $1 billion investment from investors, ending a process of seeking another buyer to take BlackBerry private.

BlackBerry said, and analysts generally agree, that the company will continue to support its mainstay enterprise users on its secure, global network, which implies continued support of its latest smartphones like the Z30.

"BlackBerry will not just disappear overnight, despite what some doomsayers have predicted," analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates said recently.

On the other hand, Gartner advised its enterprise clients to seek alternatives to BlackBerry in the next few months, and said the recent $1 billion investment in the company doesn't lower the risk to users.

To show that enterprises are still seeking BlackBerry product, such as its mobile management software with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, BlackBerry announced Wednesday that three Germany-based companies have adopted BES 10: Mitsubishi Motors Deutschland, manufacturer Grohe AG and sugar producer Sudzucker AG. The statement doesn't say which or how many of the new BlackBerry smartphones the companies will buy.

More than 25,000 BES 10 servers have been installed or set up for testing globally. One feature provided in BES 10 is flexible support for BlackBerry devices as well as Android and iOS devices.

What makes the future for the Z30 the most tenous is how BlackBerry focuses its business in coming months. Some analysts believe that Chen, and a permanent CEO successor, could put BlackBerry on a track to provide management software and network support with far less emphasis on hardware like smartphones.

This article, Verizon to put BlackBerry Z30 on sale Thursday for $200 with contract, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter @matthamblen or subscribe to Hamblen RSSMatt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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