May 14 - BlackBerry's CEO says his company is on ''solid ground'' but analysts say the changes are coming too late. Fred Katayama reports.
Trounced in the smartphone market that it once used to own, BlackBerry unveiled new steps it's taking to turn itself around, introducing a new model and expanded services. BlackBerry CEO Thornsten Heins contends BlackBerry's comeback is on track. SOUNDBITE: THORSTEN HEINS, CEO, BLACKBERRY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "You know it hasn't been that easy and you also know there is still a lot of work to do, but man, we have reached solid ground with this company." It's coming out early with a mid-tier smartphone for emerging markets ahead of Apple's rumored phone targeting a similar market. Heins showed off the Q5, which comes in four colors and sports a physical keyboard. He wouldn't name a price but said it'll go on sale in July. Once aimed purely at business users, BlackBerry is trying to appeal to a more general audience. It's opening up its very popular messaging service, BBM, to users of rival Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms. BlackBerry pulled out the stops at its pow-wow, showing off celebrity supporters like singer Alicia Keys. But it struck a sour note with investors. The stock fell roughly four percent on the news. And analysts like Evercore Partners Mark McKechnie weren't impressed, either. SOUNDBITE: MARK MCKECHNIE, TELECOM EQUIPMENT ANALYST, EVERCORE PARTNERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "My sense is that it's a bit too late. They're trying to do a few things we can get into later on the server side. But I think the momentum of Android and Apple probably too strong for them to make a meaningful comeback and be a fraction of their size that they were in the past." In just the past year, BlackBerry's operating system saw its shrinking market share more than halved to 3 percent, putting it in third place - just ahead of Microsoft's 2.9 percent. Google's Android and Apple's iOS command more than 90 percent. Without an ecosystem like Apple's collection of phones, tablets, computers and content, analysts say BlackBerry will remain stuck in second gear.