Turns out the BlackBerry Z10 was a weekend sell out after all. U.K. mobile phones retailer Phones 4u has confirmed that a majority of its stores sold out of the first BlackBerry 10 handset in its first weekend of sales. Phones 4u said 55 per cent of its 680 stores sold out of both black and white versions of the Z10. It would not confirm how many handsets each store had in stock, though, so it still doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the level of interest in BlackBerry’s reboot at this early point.
Analyst ABI Research is forecasting that BlackBerry will end with year with close to 20 million BB10 handsets in play, out of a total global smartphone pool of 1.4 billion.
On Tuesday, at its European developer event, BlackBerry talked up early demand for its next-gen OS that BlackBerry fans spent the whole of 2012 waiting for, saying some U.K. retailers had sold out of the full-touch Z10 over its launch weekend, and describing demand for the device as ‘exceeding its expectations’. BlackBerry president and CEO Thorsten Heins followed this up with a public statement, saying: “In the UK, we have seen close to three times our best performance ever for the first week of sales for a BlackBerry smartphone.”
In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Heins added more, saying the white Z10 had sold out already. “It’s beyond expectations. White is sold out already. The black is hard to stock up again. It’s very encouraging. I won’t share the number because I need to verify it, but we are getting a substantial number of users moving from other platforms to BlackBerry. That is an interesting data point,” he said.
BlackBerry also described Canadian first day sales of the Z10 as “the best day ever for the first day of a launch of a new BlackBerry smartphone”, adding: ”In fact, it was more than 50% better than any other launch day in our history in Canada.”
But, despite all this noise, media reports circulated yesterday suggesting the Z10 had not in fact been a sell out in the U.K. after all. The source of the reports was a blog called Mobile News which rang Phones 4u customer service and two of its retail stores to be told the white Z10 was in fact in stock after all — which appeared to contradict Heins’ comments.
Not so, though, says Phones 4u today — the stock has merely been replenished. The retailer couched demand for the Z10 as “exceptional” (but, as previously mentioned, did not put a figure on it). Of course part of a successful launch is managing supply so you can ensure demand appears high, even if it’s nothing special. Piles of unsold stock is never a good look, but — on the flip-side — you don’t want to frustrate customers who genuinely want to buy your product. And BlackBerry certainly can’t afford to frustrate anyone right now — it needs every customer it can get.
Returning to U.K. sales situation, it looks like BlackBerry has encouraged its “longstanding” retail partner to shine a little more light on stock levels following yesterday’s negative reports.
“As Phones 4u is currently the only place people can get their hands on the BlackBerry Z10 in white, it has been a huge success and continues to sell extremely well,” said Scott Hooton, Chief Commercial Officer at Phones 4u, in a statement. “A large number of our stores DID sell out of the white model on launch weekend, but because we knew demand was so high and we didn’t want anyone to miss out on getting one, we replenished stock within hours.”
“We have a longstanding relationship with BlackBerry and we’re delighted to report such a strong sales performance within less than a week of the new handsets going on sale,” he added.
Phones 4u’s Regent Street, London store had sold out of the Z10 when we phoned to ask about stock levels today, and one of its Oxford Street stores was only selling the device on contract (not on pay-as-you-go) because stock levels were “quite” low. A store rep said it only has three black Z10s in stock. The shop has been limiting PAYG customers who want to buy multiple Z10s to three devices each.
Phones 4u’s full release follows below.
BLACKBERRY Z10 SEES EXCEPTIONAL FIRST WEEK SALES AT PHONES 4U
Demand for white variant, still only available at Phones 4u, particularly strong
London, UK, 7th February 2013: Phones 4u today confirms it has enjoyed an exceptional response to the new Blackberry® Z10 in both white and black, with over 55% of their 680 stores selling out of the devices during the first weekend of sales. Phones 4u has since replenished stock to cater for the high demand.
Demand for the white model is particularly strong among UK smartphone customers and Phones 4u remains the only retailer where consumers can get their hands on the white device.
Scott Hooton, Chief Commercial Officer at Phones 4u, comments: “As Phones 4u is currently the only place people can get their hands on the BlackBerry Z10 in white, it has been a huge success and continues to sell extremely well. A large number of our stores DID sell out of the white model on launch weekend, but because we knew demand was so high and we didn’t want anyone to miss out on getting one, we replenished stock within hours.”
“We have a longstanding relationship with BlackBerry® and we’re delighted to report such a strong sales performance within less than a week of the new handsets going on sale. It’s fantastic to see this consumer excitement and demand, and we’re looking forward to seeing sales continue to grow over the coming weeks, particularly for the BlackBerry Z10 in white which is still only available at Phones 4u.”
A survey conducted via Phones 4u’s co-creative consumer panel, uBar (www.theubar.co.uk), has revealed that desire for a new BlackBerry smartphone handset has doubled since December 2012. The survey also highlights the top BlackBerry Z10 features driving consumer demand, with 42% of respondents voting for the BlackBerry Z10’s larger screen as being one of their top three, followed jointly by the touch screen and faster mobile browsing at 40%, and its new Flow feature at 31%.
Phones 4u is the first to range the new BlackBerry Z10 in white, which is available now along with the black model too, at Phones 4u stores from £36 a month on contract, on a choice of networks. The full range is also available online atwww.phones4u.co.uk.