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3/14/2013
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BlackBerry Boasts Order For 1 Million Smartphones

BlackBerry says a long-time partner placed the order, its largest-ever purchase.

BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
BlackBerry dropped a stunner late Wednesday when it announced that one of its "established partners" ordered 1 million BlackBerry 10 smartphones, with shipments starting immediately. According to BlackBerry, this is the largest single order in the company's history.

BlackBerry did not name the company that placed the order. Neither did BlackBerry specify if the order was for the Z10 smartphone, the Q10 smartphone or a mix of both.

"An order for one million devices is a tremendous vote of confidence in BlackBerry 10," said Rick Costanzo, BlackBerry EVP for global sales. "Consumers are ready for a new user experience, and BlackBerry 10 delivers. With strong partner support, coupled with this truly re-invented new platform, we have a powerful recipe for success."

[ What's your top priority for mobility: speed or 4G footprint? See AT&T's LTE 4G Network Speedier Than Rivals. ]

Very few companies -- or even governments -- have more than 1 million employees. According to the BBC's ranking of the top firms in 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense is the single largest employer in the world with 3.2 million. It is followed by the People's Liberation Army with 2.3 million, Walmart with 2.1 million, McDonald's (including franchisees) with 1.9 million, and the U.K.'s National Health Service with 1.7 million. The firms making up the bottom half of the top 10 employers are based in China and India.

It is unlikely that any of these entities are responsible for purchasing 1 million BlackBerry smartphones. Instead, the huge order probably rests with one of BlackBerry's wireless network operator partners.

For example, AT&T will begin selling the BlackBerry Z10 March 22. It needs to get those devices flashed and shipped to stores in the next eight days, so BlackBerry is already pushing those devices out the door. AT&T has about 100 million customers in the U.S. It's not unreasonable for AT&T to think that perhaps 1% of its customer base will be interested in buying a BlackBerry, is it?

The same can be assumed of Verizon Wireless. Verizon will begin selling the Z10 on March 28. It has close to 110 million customers. Again, it's not unreasonable to believe that Verizon is confident enough in BB10 that 1% of its customers will choose the Z10. (This really makes you wonder how many iPhones or Galaxy S smartphones these carriers order ahead of their respective launches, doesn't it?)

Whichever company or entity BlackBerry sold 1 million devices to, it is a win for the embattled smartphone maker.

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Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/16/2013 | 4:16:41 AM
re: BlackBerry Boasts Order For 1 Million Smartphones
Is this another case similar to Microsoft and their reporting of Windows 8 sales numbers?

If these Blackberries are all sold to carriers, does it count as a win to have them sitting on warehouse shelves and not in the pockets of consumers?

Personally, I carry a Blackberry for my "day job" and wouldn't consider carrying anything else until Blackberry finally goes down the tubes. What I'm worried about is the market having already dissipated to the point that no matter how great or flashy the device is that Blackberry can't regain market share. If that happens, I really see Nokia and Blackberry merging in the near future.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
FritzNelson
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FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/15/2013 | 4:17:47 AM
re: BlackBerry Boasts Order For 1 Million Smartphones
It will be interesting to see what impact this has on BlackBerry's upcoming earnings, and whether or not the company will talk about how many orders it has above a big announcement like this one. But someone obviously believes . . .
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