BlackBerry’s wryly jovial CEO Thorsten Heins spent quite a bit of time talking up the new mid-range Q5 at this morning’s BlackBerry Live keynote address, but the folks in Waterloo may be working on a follow-up smartphone that’s staggeringly different from the one we saw today.
According to a report from KnowYourMobile, the struggling Canadian company is working an all-touch BlackBerry smartphone with a 5-inch display. KnowYourMobile’s Richard Goodwin goes on to note that the device is currently in testing being tested at by unnamed Canadian wireless carrier, and the anonymous tester providing the info pointed out that the device would make its official debut within the next few months.
For what it’s worth, Jefferies’ analyst Peter Misek foretold of a 5-inch BlackBerry 10 device last month, but his track record with this sort of thing isn’t exactly sterling. It should go without saying that you should be taking all of this with a mighty big grain of salt, but it’s an intriguing notion to consider.
I mean, let’s assume for a moment that this report is accurate and that such a device really is being worked on behind closed doors — it’d be quite a bold move on BlackBerry’s part. It’s not hard to see that a considerable chunk of people have embraced large form factor smartphones, and it’s possible that BlackBerry wants to cash in on that consumer fervor. Then again, this whole thing is just loaded with question marks that could trip BlackBerry up as it works to reverse its fortunes.
By embracing so many form factors so quickly, BlackBerry runs the risk of alienating users who have perhaps prematurely pulled the trigger on an earlier model. It doesn’t help that there’s plenty of competition in the hefty smartphone space, either. Samsung is leading that particular pack with Android-powered devices like the Galaxy Note II, but rivals like LG and Sony are working to give the Korean juggernaut some competition. Couple that with persistent rumors that Apple is working on a larger smartphone of its very own and BlackBerry’s 5-inch follow-up may wind up facing the same issues with standing out as the company’s current hardware crop does.
The Q5 is a device that needed to exist — after all, a huge chunk of BlackBerry’s userbase can be found in developing markets where relatively few people could comfortably shell out the money necessary for an up-market device like the Z10 or Q10. If all goes according to plan, the Q5 may be the phone that helps BlackBerry maintain its strongholds across the globe. But a 5-inch BlackBerry? Heins and company will have to make an awfully strong argument for if it wants the world to give it a shot.