BlackBerry Overhauls Services, Branding

BlackBerry kept its promise to deliver a qwerty keyboard and a touchscreen in a hybrid smartphone this week. Will it give brands a reason to advertise on its network and improve the phone's social, video and search features?

Voice and text search have become a powerful feature on the BlackBerry Q10 and on the Web. On the phone, results are categorized by source. Search becomes more intelligent with each query because built-in technology remembers and builds on historic results.

Frank Boulben, BlackBerry CMO, told Online Media Daily that the BlackBerry Q10 supports Google Android and HTML5 applications. "On BlackBerry 10, you can use any search engine -- Google or Bing," he said.

Balance, which gives users more freedom to install a variety of applications, also divides storage on the Q10 -- half for personal and the other for work, built into the operating system.

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BlackBerry, which dropped the Research In Motion name in January, continues to flight for sales, market share and revenue since Boulben joined June 2012. The company's OS percent share of smartphone sales for the three months ended April 2013 fell to 0.7, compared with 5.3 in the year-ago quarter, according to Kantar Worldpanel. The analyst firm partly attributed faltering Verizon sales, although AT&T saw sales rise to 1.9 from 1.0, respectively.

Android now owns 51.7% of the smartphone sales market through the three months ended April 2013 -- followed by iOS with 41.4%, and Windows at 5.6% -- compared with last month, per Kantar.

"Within a year, we will have completely renewed all our devices," Boulben said, adding that the BlackBerry Messenger on iOS and Android will become available this summer for free. "We want to become the leading messaging and social network platforms."

BlackBerry's multiphase campaign and rebranding strategy will be relaunched through 2013 with each new product. The phases include media outreach, Keep Moving Project; and traditional advertising in print, radio, TV and out-of-home, as well as retail, digital and mobile.

Marketing and advertising will become critical for BlackBerry's turnaround. This quarter, Boulben's marketing budget rose 50% sequentially. The company's zero debt and nearly $3 billion in cash gives it the resources to invest in an aggressive marketing campaign. The focus remains on digital marketing and advertising, along with brand awareness through the company's Keep Moving Project campaign. "Within digital, we overindex in mobile marketing," he said.

In the Keep Moving Project, BlackBerry teams up with inspirational writers, directors and musicians on a series of unique projects. With help from their fans and the latest BlackBerry smartphones, the company will document the process and share the outcome.

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