BlackBerry Z10 Outselling Competition in UK Stores

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US analysts have been overly bearish about BlackBerry. One analyst cut his estimates by nearly 85%. However, as we found in our own checks, the BlackBerry Z10 has been selling extremely well.

Contributor to Seeking Alpha, Michael Collins, has done his homework and traveled to some of the largest UK retailers. His checks have found some surprising results and figures.

Michael went straight to someone managing the desk at the first retail location and asked the basic question: ‘People have put a rumor out that says sales of BlackBerries have plummeted since they launched.’ The general response was along the following lines:

  • This is the leading location for sales of Z10s in the UK
  • Regarding the launch of the Z10, it has been comparable to the launch of a new iPhone, and he cockily smiled back, ‘so no’ (evidently refuting the allegations of sales slumping the made last week), they were selling “loads.”
  • They have had plenty of stock; only one or two stock outs;
  • [Most important note here is that it is still selling well, just less than it did the first two days which is perfectly normal]
  • I pushed again for clarity on the question of whether the sales had tapered off and the response I got was unequivocal and along the lines of “we can’t keep them in, they go out straightaway [current sales pace]“
  • Most sales are off-contract (8 out of 10), most of these sales are for people buying them for themselves, he has to do the data transfers etc, others are to foreigners.
  • Most people are BlackBerry buyers trading up.
  • The Z10s outsells the iPhones and S3 here; though no figures providedthis was beyond any doubt.

Visit 2: Retailer

  • iPhone5 outsells Z10s 2 to 1 here
  • They sell 5-6 contracts per day, and 15 off contract per day

Has there been a recent sales slump?

  • To which he answered that they have someone coming in every 5 to 10 minutes asking if the Z10 is in stock. That’s a no.

Visit 3: Retailer

Are people buying it?

  • There was tons of hype at first; people wanted to buy off contract.
  • They sold out launch, as this store did not have large stock day one.
  • They are currently sold out and therefore losing sales
  • Currently selling Z10s at 5-10 per day, but weekly rate is less, 30 Z10s, due to shortage of stock.
  • This compares to 80 iPhones per week in this location people are walking in and walking out if there is no stock.
  • Rate here is 3 Z10s to 8 iPhones 5, but salesman suggested it would 2 to 1 if they had adequate stock

On a side note he told me that you know a phone is selling very well when it’s strictly sold on contract and they stop selling it outright. It’s a strategy for them to throttle supply. Off contract prices rose recently because retailers needed to make better margins to make up for the lost contract sales.

Visit 4: Mobile Carrier

  • Going so so, just people who are really BlackBerry users wanted it
  • Difficult to push to newcomers who come in looking for iPhone.
  • Sales had not died off over time and they did sell quite a lot.

(My impression is this retailer has more of an iPhone bent and theirsales staff are just not that motivated to sell Z10.)

  • The manager was very critical of BlackBerry as he felt they had waited too long to come out with a phone, lacked apps, etc. hadn’t upgraded servers.
  • He said it was “struggling now” but it was a good device;
  • He said he expected the new Q10 keyboard will have a surge in demand and will be the comeback.
  • Generally not positive in this store; maybe a fervent Apple (AAPL) user or just anti-Blackberry person?

Visit 5: Retailer

  • It’s an absolutely fantastic handset and it’s ‘flying of the shelves’
  • Sales have quieted since launch as it’s more available elsewhere but he had no problem moving stock, none.
  • Compared to iPhone sales: He can sell 60 to 100 Blackberry’s per day vs 15 to 20 iPhones [Note: Z10 is out selling iPhone 4 to 1 here because iPhone5 sales are only on contract in this location]
  • He did note many are foreigners who are buying it but also many are simply buying because they want the handset but they are stuck on contract.
  • Though sales had quieted down from initial launch, they were still running at a very good pace.

Visit 6: Retailer

This manager refused to speak in detail and was defensive about numbers, but I gave him my intro and recounted what the street was saying.

When I asked, “Did it go well at launch simply because of pent up demand and is it not selling anymore? / are sales dropping off now?”

He shook his head smiled, laughed at me, self-assuredly: “It’s selling well”

So I asked him if I could say on my blog “I walked into a retailer in the UK and he laughed at me when I told him the story.” He said “yes.”

Note to short investors: Did your analyst, who put you on this trade, do his due diligence properly and come to London to get laughed at by this man?

Visit 7: Mobile Carrier

  • His feedback was Blackberry users liked it and early adopters like it, but the bulk of the market has not taken to it yet.
  • He is doing high single digits on a good week for Z10 vs 40 iPhones; He does not sell it off contract.
  • Foot traffic is very, very low at this store and he said this was not a representative store. He was generally not positive.
  • Same brand as Mobile Retailer 4, is there a pattern here?

Visit 8: Mobile Carrier

  • Sells on contract only

Same initial story: “Have Z10 sales fallen off / Was it a one hit wonder on the first weekend etc?”

  • It did really well when it was first release, very well, and though it has slowed a bit, not in any worrying manner.
  • They are still selling. Current ratio to iPhone5 is 1 to 4 and 1 to 5.
  • He sees competition coming next week coming from HTC and Sony Xperia and he was interested to see Q10.
  • On the whole it has done well and it was a big number [that they sold), and the 300k worldwide estimate for Feb was "shockingly low."

Visit 9: Mobile Carrier

  • Sells on contract only
  • Also compares to Z10 1 to 4 -5 for iPhone (He had sold 1 iPhone and Z10 that day)
  • Mentioned lack of apps did go against Blackberry
  • He had not seen demand fall of the cliff;
  • He has had stock sell out that caused him to lose sales.
  • Weekly sales were Z10: 20-30 per week vs iPhone 5 80

I asked him why the difference between his store and other mobile carrier which had had negative feedback.

  • He squarely blamed the sales consultant and training.

Visit 10: Mobile Carrier

  • Opening weekend outsold the iPhone
  • Still selling very strong, it's very popular.
  • Device is great and he hadn't a glimmer of a problem yet [This is one aspect I hear often]
  • Ratio of sales? Didn’t want to give them.
  • The Z10 was going head to head against the iPhone5 and beating it on contract in his store. The Z10′s competition came not fromiPhone5 but Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S3 mini, both of which were out selling the iPhone 5.
  • 2 Galaxy S3s to Z10

This gentleman absolutely hit the nail on the head when told me that he knows how to sell it, his people were properly trained on how to sell it, and that was why they were able to sell it so well.

  • He expects Q10 sales to destroy the iPhone5
  • He also laughed at me when I asked if sales had fallen off a cliff.

Takeaway Points:

  • Mobile Operator Stores that sell only on contract were pretty much running sales at 1 Z10 to 4/5 iPhone5.
  • When sold properly by a mobile operator store the Z10 outsold theiPhone, but not the S3.
  • In retailers, it can vary from the Z10 outselling the iPhone5 4 to 1, simply outselling the iPhone5, to trailing the iPhone5 2 to 1 and 3 to 8 in one location with shortages.
  • Volumes on a daily basis at one retailer was surprising, claiming top store(s) in the area sell between 60-100 per day, bodes very well for sell-through rates.
  • There is no shortage of supply nor buyers, especially when sold off contract. Retailers recognized this and hiked up off contract prices.
  • There is no indication of a ‘slump’ in sales. US Analysts have provided a belly full of laughs to UK mobile store managers.

Now, this isn’t limited to just the UK. We’ve been hearing the BlackBerry Z10 is stellar seller throughout the world thus far. It will be quite interesting to see how well the BlackBerry Z10 sells once it lands in the US.




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