BlackBerry has several market segments – consumer, telco, and enterprise. According to a very nervous Blackberry Australia representative, enterprise sales have been strongest where deals have been done to keep current users in the family and, he said, it was too early to gauge sales success.
I asked telco’s Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone for comment and got none. A terse reply from one was that existing BlackBerry users were the main buyers and they remained supportive and hopeful.
A Telstra franchisee was most helpful. “We don’t get a lot of large corporate clients (100+ handsets) but we do have quite a lot of 20-100 handset clients because of our location. They have not been buying the Z10 or Q10. Or the iPhone either because of the rumoured new models. When a contract is up - as so many BlackBerry contracts are - Windows Phones are very popular as replacements. We cannot sell Android into corporates,” she said.
In more casual conversation with an Optus store, a sales rep said that consumer sales had been almost nil, and genuine corporate buyers preferred the entry level Nokia Lumia 520 for staff and the 625 (4G, 4.5”) for executives.
I spoke to a Harvey Norman franchisee with a strong corporate base. “Mate, the white Q10 is exclusive to us. Supply has been delayed to 5 September but there is no interest, no one rushing in to buy one. The black one is gathering dust and we will probably ship these back soon,” he said.
Mobicity, which sells a parallel imported Q10 for $650 (about $38 cheaper than HN) had a similar story – initial interest had not resulted in sales. When asked what was popular for corporates the response was “If money is not an issue the S4 at about $100 more and for corporates with networks the Lumia 520 (around $200) and 4G 625 (around $380)."
In the US, Chris Jourdan, owner of 16 Wireless Zone stores that sell Verizon Wireless products, said its stores only ordered a few Q10s, and the ones that actually did sell were returned, but no reason was given.
Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer at used electronics buyer NextWorth, said neither the Z10 nor Q10 launches sparked mass trade-ins. Usually when a new phone comes out, people will trade their old BlackBerrys for the upgrade, but he said the number of people running in to trade for the new BlackBerry was low.
BlackBerry remains hopeful. It recently said that 60% of Fortune 500 companies are testing its new phones.
Banking on the QWERTY keyboard to turn sales around was a big gamble. Demand for an expensive handset is not driven by this.
It does not help BlackBerry’s admirable cause that almost all analysts are writing about BleakBerry’s future (pun intended). While most articles have a sympathetic and even encouraging tone, it is widely suggested that this is BlackBerry’s last chance.
And it seems Windows Phone, not iPhone or Android, is taking up the niche BlackBerry leaves.
Here, for hyour perusal, is some of the more recent iTWire articles on BlackBerry’s business: