Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry is slated to launch new phones powered by its re-engineered mobile phone platform in the Chinese market sometime later this year, a source close to the matter told the Global Times Tuesday.
"The offering of the newest BlackBerry 10 lineup is expected sometime later this year across the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan markets," said the source, who has knowledge of the launches.
This may boost market sentiment on the embattled smartphone pioneer, which has recently been rumored to consider pulling out of Japan and South Korea, as sluggish sales dim hopes for BlackBerry's success in markets where it faces fierce competition from handset vendors such as Apple.
BlackBerry has yet to confirm such exit rumors, but a spokeswoman for the company was quoted by Reuters as saying on February 7, "Japan is not a major market for BlackBerry, and we have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices there at this time."
But for the former reigning king of the smartphone world, it might be far too optimistic to forecast a return to glory any time soon, analysts said.
"Although the new platform shows substantial improvement in some key factors such as the user interface, BlackBerry remains weak in building its smartphone ecosystem compared with its rivals. This is especially a concern in the consumer segment in Asian countries such as China," CK Lu, a senior analyst at research firm Gartner Inc, told the Global Times Tuesday.
Even in the corporate market, BlackBerry has been on a downward trend, Lu noted, pointing to continued challenges for the Canadian smartphone vendor despite its re-innovated mobile platform.
By 2015, BlackBerry's share in the global smartphone market in terms of shipments is likely to shrink to below 2 percent from 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Gartner.
In China, where competition has been intense with domestic brands eking out an existence in the smartphone arena, BlackBerry may face more uncertainties.