BlackBerry delivered one of the world’s most mysterious press releases a short time ago when it revealed that it had sold a cool 1 million BB10 devices to an unnamed partner, but now it looks like some sleuthing has turned up the real client. AllThingsD and Detwiler Fenton both report that the likely source of the order was Brightstar, an international distribution company that counts Verizon, along with carriers around the world as its partners.
Brightstar is an established BlackBerry customer, and distributes handsets from the Waterloo manufacturer in some of its strongest markets, including in countries like Malaysia where BlackBerry retains very high popularity. Brightstar’s order (if indeed this is the client in question) would indeed be the largest ever single order of BlackBerry devices, but it’s also potentially a way for companies like Verizon to make a sizable bet on the company’s brand new OS and hardware, without taking on all the risk for such an order itself.
Detwiler Fenton says that the move indicates “Verizon doesn’t believe this well be a strong seller since it normally tries to allocate hot product on its own,” and that using Brightstar means it will spread out some of the responsibility and potential reward that comes with placing inventory in big-box retail locations like Best Buy, in exchange for the security of not being left solely on the hook should things go south. The U.S. launch of BlackBerry 10 happened last Friday, and while not all the cards are on the table, there’s still some early reason to believe things didn’t go amazingly well.
BlackBerry has its earnings coming up this week on Thursday, but sales of BB10 devices in the U.S. won’t be included in or influence the results. Still, stock price is down today after last weekend’s launch failed to garner the kind of high-profile success and buzz associated with new hardware from Apple or Samsung.
That million is still a big number, and a sizable order. But if Detwiler Fenton is accurate in its report and this involved carriers like Verizon placing an order through their distribution partner, it’s a lot less significant than were it to go to a single buyer. We’ve contacted RIM for comment, but they did not respond by time of publication.