Beleaguered BlackBerry “announced plans on Tuesday to offer its popular instant messaging system on rival devices and introduced a new mid-tier smartphone targeted at countries where its faded brand remains strong,” Euan Rocha reports for Reuters. “BlackBerry said the new Q5 smartphone would be available starting in July in selected markets in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The Q5 includes the tiny qwerty keyboard that still sets BlackBerry apart from most rivals.”

“Shares in BlackBerry were about 4 percent lower early on Tuesday afternoon as analysts wondered what the Q5’s price tag would be. They also questioned if the move to open up BBM, as the BlackBerry Messaging service is popularly known, was too little, too late,” Rocha reports. “Former co-CEO Jim Balsillie had sought to offer BBM on iPhones and other rivals in a broad strategy shift before he was overruled. He cut all ties to the company early last year. [CEO Thorsten] Heins said BlackBerry Messaging will be offered free of charge to consumers using rival phones.”

Rocha reports, “BlackBerry long relied on BBM to keep customers tied to its own devices, so the shift recognizes a new reality where many customers have already fled. ‘The guy on the iPhone is gone already, he’s lost,’ said Colin Gillis, a technology analyst at BGC Partners in New York. ‘The point is the guy on the BlackBerry can at least now talk to his friends.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: That last sentence seemed truncated. Here, let us take a shot: The point is the guy on the BlackBerry can at least now talk to his friends before BlackBerry finally takes its long-awaited dirt nap and its remaining luddites finally go get real iPhones.

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