Analyst: BlackBerry 10 off to strong start in the UK

The devices will not launch in the U.S. until mid-March, but the strong start in the UK is encouraging.
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BlackBerry, formerly Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), appears to be off to a strong start with the UK launch of its new BlackBerry 10 platform, according to a financial analyst. 

According to AllThingsD, which cited a report from analysts at Jefferies, channel checks on BlackBerry 10 pre-orders in the United Arab Emirates and Canada have so far been "solid." In the UK, where the company's flagship Z10 smartphone is now on sale, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek reported lines outside a number of UK retailers selling the device.

"We believe Carphone Warehouse is seeing widespread sell-outs, while O2, Vodafone, Orange and EE are seeing robust demand," Misek said, according to the report. "We estimate sell-in to be at least several hundred thousand units."

BlackBerry chose the UK as one of its first launch markets because of its continued strength there. "The UK has been a key market for us for so long," BlackBerry senior vice president Andrew Bocking told CNET. "We have over 8 million BlackBerry users today in the UK and we are very excited for them to be on the leading edge getting access to BB10 on the Z10."

The company is also looking for strong sales in India and Indonesia, two key emerging markets, especially as more consumers there move from feature phones to smartphones, explained Reuters.

The company's devices are not scheduled to hit the U.S. market until March. All four Tier 1 U.S. carriers will support RIM's new BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has blamed the delay in the U.S. launch on carrier testing processes.

Still, the strong start in the UK could be an encouraging sign for BlackBerry. "To put [these early Z10 numbers] in perspective, the iPhone had first weekend sales of 5 million plus in the U.S.," Misek said. "The U.S. is five times larger so continued strong sales could bode very well for BlackBerry."

Blackberry also introduced its first TV commercial for the new platform and phones during the Super Bowl Sunday night. Some critics panned the spot, saying it did not hype or explain any of the phone's key features. Indeed, the advertisement is focused on all of the things the Z10 can't do, like turn a truck into thousands of rubber ducks.

"In our debut appearance at the Super Bowl we knew that it wasn't feasible to communicate the rich experience of BlackBerry 10. We decided to use the light hearted spirit of Super Bowl ads to showcase what BlackBerry 10 can't do," CMO Frank Boulben said in a statement. "We wanted to let people know that BlackBerry is back and that BlackBerry 10 is worth checking out. People can find out for themselves the amazing things that the totally re-designed, re-engineered and re-invented BlackBerry 10 can do at www.blackberry.com."

Boulben told The Verge that the ad "shows some swagger. It's cutting edge, it shows self-confidence. It fits with the introduction of the product." BlackBerry has said its advertising going forward will focus on the key features of BlackBerry 10.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this CNET article
- see this Reuters article
- see this The Verge article
- see this separate CNET article

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