BlackBerry’s CEO Thorsten Heins has often said the company “owned” the keyboard phone market segment. This may be a very true statement, but according to investigative journalism by the Wall Street Journal it may no longer be BlackBerry’s lifeline.
BlackBerry made the decision to release their first BlackBerry 10 full QWERTY device months after the launch of the all-touch Z10. The move confused many. As Z10 sales were reportedly quite slow it was hoped that the Q10 would be the company’s savior device.
That plan has allegedly backfired in North America. “We saw virtually no demand for the Q10 and eventually returned most to our equipment vendor,” said Chris Jourdan, who owns and operates 16 Wireless Zone stores in the Midwestern U.S. that sell Verizon Wireless products. Jourdan’s stores only purchased a few Q10’s, but claims “the handful that sold were returned.”
Further indications that BlackBerry 10 smartphones aren’t doing so hot come from used phone dealers. The BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 launches were “nonevents” from a trade-in perspective claims Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer at NextWorth.
“We thought there would be a pocket of die-hard BlackBerry enthusiasts waiting to upgrade, but it seems they have already moved on,” Trachsel said.
“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,” an executive at a Canadian carrier said. “It didn’t drive the numbers that anybody expected.”
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any physical keyboard loathing customers. A Sprint spokeswoman said there was interest in the Q10, especially among business customers. “We get asked quite often about phones with a qwerty keyboard,” Michelle Leff Mermelstein said. “So we know there is a demand for it.”
Although, BlackBerry may have accidentally shot themselves in the foot by publicly announcing it was reviewing plans for strategic partnerships, privatization, or outright sales. With such uncertainty it may cause more would-be customers to reconsider their BlackBerry 10 purchase, much like Morgan Stanley.