BlackBerry Q10 sales “hit the ground and died”


BlackBerry kicked off its attempt at turning around the company with the launch of the all-touch BlackBerry Z10 but it pinned much of its hopes on the Q10 that followed in May in Canada and June in the U.S. With its physical QWERTY keyboard, it was expected to be a hit with the business and enterprise markets. CEO Thorsten Heins predicted sales of “several tens of million” units in a Bloomberg interview in late April. While early sales in the UK and Canada may have been encouraging, a bleaker picture is now emerging.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday described sales of the Q10 in both Canada and the U.S. as dismal. According to “people familiar with the matter,” inventory of unsold devices is piling up and carriers have begun to discount both it and the Z10 in a bid to improve sales. There are further signs that the expected sales have not materialized.

The owner of a number of Wireless Zone stores in the Midwestern U.S. indicated that they saw “virtually no demand for the Q10 and eventually returned most to our equipment vendor.” Even diehard BlackBerry fans may not be upgrading to the Q10 as used phone dealers have not seen a major influx of older BlackBerry devices. One went as far as describing the Z10 and Q10 launches as “nonevents” from a trade-in perspective.

Sales in Canada, BlackBerry’s home country, appear to be no better. According to one unnamed carrier executive, “I think we’d all say that the Q10, the one we all thought was going to be the savior, just hit the ground and died. It didn’t drive the numbers that anybody expected.”

BlackBerry declined to comment on device sales but we’ll know if sales have improved over the past quarter on September 27th when it announces its latest financial results.

Corporate sales could still help BlackBerry turn things around. BlackBerry’s new smartphones are being evaluated by 60% of Fortune 500 companies. Combine that with the fact that enterprise sales cycles are notoriously long and it may well be that sales are just around the corner. In fact, BlackBerry earlier this week announced the sale of 2,000 BlackBerry Q10 smartphones to Univision, a media company serving Hispanic America.

In the meantime, BlackBerry is pursuing an “exploration of strategic alternatives” that could see it form a joint venture or partnership with another company or sell itself off. It is also mulling spinning off its BBM software into a separate company.

Sources : The Wall Street Journal // BlackBerry