BlackBerry Starts Z10 Phone Sales in India Today Before U.S.

BlackBerry begins selling the Z10 handset in India today, before the phone’s introduction in the U.S.

The device will cost 43,490 rupees ($800), according to a press release handed to reporters in Mumbai yesterday. Apple Inc. charges at least 45,000 rupees for an iPhone 5, while a Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Note II costs 35,600, according to the distributor and the company’s websites respectively.

The Z10 is central to Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry’s bid to revive sales after it posted three losses in four quarters amid global competition from Apple and Samsung. The flagship Z10 model isn’t due in the U.S., BlackBerry’s biggest source of revenue, until March.

In India, BlackBerry has maintained higher market share than in other countries helped by the popularity of its messenger service and lower prices than Apple and Samsung, according to Kiranjeet Kaur, a Singapore-based analyst at IDC. The nation accounts for about 20 percent of BlackBerry’s Asia-Pacific sales, according to the research company.

The phonemaker’s most popular handsets in India, the Curve series, costs from as little as 9,990 rupees, according to advertisements in the Times of India newspaper.

Nationwide smartphone sales could increase almost 50 percent this year to $4 billion and could cross $7 billion by 2016, according to Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC. The rising sales, caused by economic growth and improving wireless networks, have also prompted Samsung and Apple to boost their presence in the country.