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BlackBerry offers new phone

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The BlackBerry Z30 will hit the market in the coming weeks -- this time with a larger screen.

SUPPLIED PHOTO / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

The BlackBerry Z30 will hit the market in the coming weeks -- this time with a larger screen.

TORONTO -- BlackBerry, amid minimal fanfare, unveiled another new smartphone on Wednesday, this time with a bigger screen that appears designed to attract users who want a midpoint device between a phone and a tablet.

But the launch was largely overshadowed by the latest developments at its competitors and reports the company is planning to deliver another round of major layoffs.

It's the latest setback for the Waterloo, Ont.-based company that has been trying to regain ground in the technology market even as consumers seem to be increasingly losing interest in the brand.

Apple, Samsung and other rivals continue to release new versions of their devices alongside a growing number of players in the tablet market.

The new BlackBerry Z30 comes with a five-inch screen, improved battery life and a faster processor than the models released earlier this year, and is about the same size as its competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S4. The device is larger than most smartphones, but smaller than the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which the company recently stopped producing after two years.

BlackBerry took a relatively low-key approach to promote the new device on Wednesday. The phone was announced overseas at an event in Malaysia that even chief executive officer Thorsten Heins didn't attend.

The approach was unusual, especially considering tech firms often drum up as much enthusiasm as possible for their new devices in hopes they'll eclipse those of their competitors.

A report in the Wall Street Journal said BlackBerry executives may lay off as much as 40 per cent the company's staff -- which would equate to some 5,000 people -- as it moves forward with a three-stage plan to return the company to profitability.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 19, 2013 B9

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