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AT&T to begin selling BlackBerry Z10 next week

epa03561772 The display of the new BlackBerry Z10 handset is pictured at the Blackberry smartphone launch in London, Britain, 30 January 2013. (ANDY RAIN/EPA)

AT&T will begin selling the BlackBerry Z10 on March 22, with pre-sales beginning Tuesday.

The carrier announced Monday that the all-touch BlackBerry will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract and will be the first BlackBerry to run on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. The phone has a 4.2-inch screen, 8 MP camera and records 1080p high-definition video.

BlackBerry announced the new phone Jan. 30, but its global rollout had yet to reach the United States. All four major carriers are expected to support at least one of the new BlackBerry handsets, the Z10 and the QWERTY-keyboard model known as the Q10.

Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have not announced when their customers can pick up new BlackBerrys, though T-Mobile is making the Z10 available to business customers starting Monday.

The success of the Z10, Q10 and BlackBerry phones running the new BlackBerry 10 operating system is crucial for the Canadian smartphone maker, which is in the midst of a major push to get its phones back into the minds and pockets of consumers around the world.

While the company is focusing on energizing its loyal base of business consumers, it’s also working hard to appeal to consumers who are increasing bringing their own devices in to the office to act as both their work and personal device.

The company’s done that by addressing some of the main complaints users had about their older BlackBerry devices — such as the Torch, the Curve and the Pearl — including the view that the phones had weak multimedia and camera software.

Meanwhile, the smartphone maker has been pushing an aggressive marketing campaign online and elsewhere to get the brand’s name back into the conversation.

Ahead of sales, the buzz seems pretty good. According to chief marketing officer Frank Boulben, BlackBerry started its campaign last July fighting against 78 percent negative media sentiment and ended up with 92 percent positive media sentiment by the time it launched its devices in January.

Of course, buzz isn’t everything. While the devices are selling well overseas the company hasn’t released exact figures and will have to prove that it can continue strong sales after the first initial rush of buyers.

Related stories:

BlackBerry CMO talks new name, new phones and the game plan for a comeback

BlackBerry pushes first BB10 software update

Samsung sets sights on corporate customers

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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