UPDATE 1-BlackBerry won't sell its new phones in Japan for now

Thu Feb 7, 2013 5:22pm EST

Feb 8 (Reuters) - BlackBerry said on Thursday it has no immediate plans to offer its BlackBerry 10 line in Japan; the company's move suggests that it sees little chance of Japan emerging as a major market for its new devices at this time.

The company, which changed its name from Research In Motion following the launch of the line last week, is attempting to win back consumers with its new touch-screen device dubbed the Z10 and a model called the Q10, with a more traditional keyboard.

Its shares surged nearly 6 percent on Thursday, on reports that the Z10 was enjoying strong sales in the markets where it is already available.

The models, powered by its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, are considered the company's best hope of reviving its tarnished image as a smartphone innovator.

The Z10 has already gone on sale in the United Kingdom and Canada, and is expected to go on sale in the United States in mid-March. The Q10 is expected to go on sale globally in April.

Japan's Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday that the company however, plans to stop selling its older smartphones in Japan due to poor sales.

A spokeswoman for BlackBerry said, "Japan is not a major market for BlackBerry, and we have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices there at this time."

The company said it plans to continue to provide support for Blackberry customers in Japan and confirmed that it will have Japanese language support on its new operating system in the future.

BlackBerry's market share in Japan has shrunk to 0.3 percent from 5 percent, according to the Nikkei report.

While BlackBerry has done well in developing markets, it has hemorrhaged customers in developed markets such as Japan and the United States. Its fourth-quarter North American market share fell to 2 percent from more than 40 percent three years ago.

The company hopes that its new devices will help it claw back market share lost in recent years to rivals such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.

BlackBerry shares ended the day up 5.7 percent at $16.96 on the Nasdaq, while its Toronto-listed shares rose 5.8 percent to close at C$16.91.

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