March 4, 2015 Last Updated 3:53 pm

Blackberry uses the Mobile World Congress to launch the Leap; the Apple Watch world tour

Blackberry continues to hope it can hang on to loyal customers while slowing building back its user base with new product introductions like the keyboard-less Leap

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is, like many events, not the place the market leaders like to introduce their next new products. Companies like Apple and Google hold their events, at the time that is appropriate for them (one reason Apple pulled out of Macworld).

But the mobile market is large enough that the Barcelona event provides an opportunity for others to show off their latest gear. One of those companies, and a former market leader in mobile, Blackberry, did just that yesterday with the introduction of the BlackBerry Leap.

BB-Leap“BlackBerry Leap was built specifically for mobile professionals who see their smartphone device as a powerful and durable productivity tool that also safeguards sensitive communications at all times,” said Ron Louks, President, Devices and Emerging Solutions.

The five-inch BlackBerry Leap looks like it will appeal to many professionals still glued to the Blackberry system – it offers 25-hour battery life, and 8 megapixel camera and a 720p HD resolution display. It also features dual app storefronts, offering both the Blackberry and Amazon stores with its Android apps.

Early reviews seem to say it is a very nice phone. But the market is filled with very nice phones, and users tend to get locked into one ecosystem or another. The cellphone market is not the car market of the early ’70s where the big guys have created huge openings for new competition.

Then there is the Apple Watch…

This has been an interesting and unique product roll out for Apple. Announced last fall, and now enjoying its own road show, Apple has probably spent more time and effort with this roll out than any that I can remember. The publicity is not national is scope, in that we aren’t (yet) seeing a huge TV ad campaign, but Apple is touring the world showing off the Watch to drum up interest.

AW-300Right now the roadshow is in Hong Kong.

One can interpret this in many ways: they are fearful that the price tag might be too high for the average iPhone owner and need to attract high income earnings worldwide right at launch? That the market is smaller and therefore harder to reach through its traditional marketing strategy (we won’t see lines to buy the Apple Watch, will we?)

Who knows, but with the starting price reportedly set at $349, it is obvious that Apple feels a bit of pressure to make this launch work.

I will admit that, as a Mac user, I was not exactly thrilled when Apple introduced both the iPod and iPhone into the market. In the end, I only bought an iPod many years after its initial introduction and never really became a regular iPod user. My interest in the iPhone grew once I saw the video of the introduction (has there ever been a better production introduction?).

Maybe Apple will surprise me and convince me I need a piece of jewelry – then again, I doubt they see publishers as their primary market for the Apple Watch.

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