BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEO Thorsten Heins ratcheted up expectations and brimmed with confidence over expected sales of the Q10, the company's first BlackBerry 10-based smartphone with a Qwerty keyboard, noting the company expects to sell "tens of millions" of units of the phone.
"We have very, very good first signs already after the launch in the U.K.," Heins said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "This is going into the installed base of more than 70 million BlackBerry users so we have quite some expectations. We expect several tens of millions of units."
Heins has said the Q10 is in testing with 40 carriers in 20 countries. So far, sales of the device in the United Kingdom appear to be strong, as Selfridges & Co., a British department store that had an early exclusive on the Q10, sold out of its initial stock within two hours last Friday, according to AllThingsD. On Monday, the store issued a press release and said the Q10 is its fastest-selling consumer electronics product ever.
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA will support the Q10, which is expected to be available in the United States by the end of May for $249 with a two-year contract. The carriers have not yet detailed exact pricing or availability.
So far U.S. sales of the touchscreen Z10, which is being sold through Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, have been modest, according to analysts. BlackBerry is banking on the Z10 and Q10 to help it regain market share both in the U.S. and globally. The Q10, with its distinctive BlackBerry physical keyboard, could appeal more to die-hard BlackBerry fans. Early reviews of the Q10 have been largely positive.
Heins, in a separate interview with Bloomberg, said he does not see the tablet market as a long-term one. The company's BlackBerry Playbook tablet, built on software that predated BB10, has not sold well, especially compared to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) industry-leading iPad. BlackBerry sold around 370,000 PlayBook tablets in its most recent quarter, compared to more than 500,000 BlackBerry PlayBook sales in the year-ago period.
"In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," Heins said. "Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model."
Heins said a new BlackBerry tablet would need to provide a unique proposition in a crowded market. "In five years, I see BlackBerry to be the absolute leader in mobile computing--that's what we're aiming for," he said. "I want to gain as much market share as I can, but not by being a copycat."
In other BlackBerry news, the company launched a cheaper, entry-level subscription plan in India for its BlackBerry-branded communications services in a bid to increase its market share in the market, where smartphone penetration is growing. The company introduced a $2.39 per month plan for individuals and corporate users. Previously, BlackBerry service cost around $16.70 per month to companies and $7.40 for consumers, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this separate Bloomberg article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this CNET article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
BlackBerry: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to carry Qwerty Q10
Verizon's Z10 sales giving BlackBerry a boost, according to Chitika
Analysts: BlackBerry's U.S. Z10 sales off to a weak start
BlackBerry 7 to power new devices targeting emerging markets
BlackBerry sells 1M Z10s, but loses 3M subscribers
Report: Brightstar is mystery buyer of 1M BlackBerry 10 phones