BlackBerry chooses Mideast, UK for launch of flagship Z30 phone

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BlackBerry has chosen the UK and select Middle Eastern countries for the launch of its flagship Z30 smartphone, the troubled handset maker said today.

The long-rumored phone, which runs on BlackBerry’s new BB10 operating system, has been touted as the firm’s “biggest, fastest and most advanced smartphone" to date.

The Z30, which has a 1.7 gigahertz processor and five-inch touchscreen display, will begin to hit the shelves in the UK and parts of the Middle East as early as next week, Reuters reported.

The Z30 is first being unveiled at a launch event in Kuala Lumpur, and pricing will be announced later, Reuters reported.

BlackBerry has fared better in the Arab world compared with many other global markets, where the Canadian firm has faced stiff competition from rivals Samsung and Apple.

That has been reflected in the company's decision to launch several of its high-profile products in the Middle East.

The company selected Dubai as one of a handful of cities for the global launch of the Z10 in January. BlackBerry also chose the UAE as the global launch market for its lower-cost Q5 handset, further underscoring the importance of the Middle East to the brand.

But despite sales having held up better, there are signs that BlackBerry is coming under increased pressure in the Arab world.

The electronics chain Jacky’s said last month that its UAE revenues from selling BlackBerry devices was “a little over half” what it was last year.

BlackBerry has faced difficulty globally, with a declining market share seeing its share-price plummet over recent years. The firm this month acknowledged that it is exploring “strategic alternatives”, including joint ventures, strategic partnerships, or an outright sale.

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