On Monday, BlackBerry began selling the Z10 in India for 43,490 rupees — about $805. That’s a price point that puts the device squarely in competiion with Apple’s iPhone 5, which starts at 45,500 rupees — about $844. An interesting move for BlackBerry, whose popularity in the Indian market has traditionally been driven not just by its widely used messenger service, but handsets that were comparatively lower in price than those of Apple and Samsung.
Of course, as I’ve noted here before, price seems to be increasingly less of an issue for consumers in India. Earlier this month, IDC analyst Ryan Reith told AllThingsD that the research firm had seen “overwhelming demand” for the iPhone 5 in India. (Still an issue for some, though, according to Twitter).
So the market for high-end smartphones in the country clearly exists. The challenge for BlackBerry is to convince consumers there that the Z10 and the BlackBerry 10 OS on which it run deserves a spot in it. That might be tougher than expected for the company, whose share of the Indian smartphone market declined to about 5 percent last quarter. Not only is BlackBerry going up against Apple, which is expanding its presence in the country, it’s taking on Samsung, which has captured a 40 percent share.
But if the company is able to pull it off and tap deeply into the Indian smartphone market, the rewards will undoubtedly be great. IDC expects the Indian smartphone market to hit 108 million units in 2016, about five times its size now.
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