BlackBerry's Heins cheered by Z10 success in Europe, but analyst disagrees

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BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said he's very encouraged by the traction the company's new BlackBerry 10 Z10 smartphone is gaining in Europe and elsewhere.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins BlackBerry 10

Heins introduces BlackBerry 10 on Jan. 30 in New York City.

"The feedback is very encouraging," Heins said at the Communitech Tech Leadership Conference in Waterloo, Canada, according to Reuters. "What has been a real surprise for us is that BlackBerry 10 as a platform and product is attracting users that are currently on other platforms."

Heins' comments fit with those made recently by Rick Costanzo, Blackberry's executive vice president of global sales, who told FierceWireless at the Mobile World Congress trade show that BlackBerry is seeing one-third of new BlackBerry 10 device sales coming from customers who are switching to the platform from other smartphone operating systems.

While he declined to provide sales figures for the Z10, noting the company is in a quiet period ahead of its quarterly results announcement, Heins said the new smartphone is already available in the UK, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, India, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa, among other countries.

"We are just five weeks into this. We have just one product out in 21 countries, so it is early indications, but we are encouraged by what we see and hear from our carrier partners," he said.

Heins added that the company had been surprised how well the high-end Z10 had been received in India. "We shipped into the channel product that we thought would have been good for at least five days and I got an emergency call from our manager in India, saying that they were sold out in two days."

"Now we are scrambling to re-load that channel," he said, according to Reuters.

However, there are signs that sales of the Z10 in the UK might have nosedived after a strong start.

"Our checks indicate that as sell-through run-rates for the Z10 have declined meaningfully in the weeks following launch, we believe operators and third-party retailers in the UK are already well above typically targeted inventory levels," Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette wrote in a note to investors, according to Forbes. "Canadian operator stores and retailers also appear to be rapidly approaching targeted levels, in our view."

Faucette also raised concerns over the recent Z10 price cuts at the UK reseller Carphone Warehouse and other outlets.

"We continue to believe that the company likely shipped roughly 275,000 to 325,000 Z10s in the February quarter for the UK and Canadian markets," Faucette wrote. "Further, we estimate that the company is likely to ship one to two million units in the May quarter, with sell-through likely well below that figure. As such, we believe optimism around BlackBerry is overdone at current levels and would remain sellers [of the shares]."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Forbes article

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