Keyboard Crazy: Is BlackBerry Back in the Game?
London's legendary department store Selfridges singled out BlackBerry's new Q10 model as its "fastest-ever selling" technology product at a launch on Saturday, but analysts remain unconvinced that this high demand will help the mobile maker remain relevant in a tough market.
Selfridges said its initial stock of the BlackBerry Q10, the first to include a Qwerty keyboard as well as BlackBerry's new BB10 software, sold out in stores within two hours.
"The BlackBerry Q10 has been, without a doubt, the most highly anticipated smartphone we have ever sold and is already our most successful," Julian Slim, head of home and leisure said in a press statement, with Selfridges adding that its website's pre-order page received 30,000 views within the first two days of the announcement.
Retailing at 579.99 pounds ($898) the Q10 has caused "a bit of pent up demand" according to Mark Sue, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, who said that the launch saw "modest crowds" at the London store. RBC is increasing its near-term assumptions on better-than-expected demand for the phones as well as keyboard-less bigger brother, the Z10.
"Some people love those buttons," Sue said in a research note on Monday. "We see the stock range bound between $12 to $18 and largely driven by sentiment."
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BlackBerry, formerly Research In Motion, was a major player in the mobile space during the last decade. Renowned for its top of the range smartphones for the business user, its main selling point became the inclusion of a full Qwerty keypad on each device allowing improved email and SMS messaging functions. But BlackBerry's share price has seen a steady decline since the 2007, falling by over 90 percent, with touch screen models flooding the market and Samsung and Apple dominating in the sector.
The Q10 is likely to appeal to the numerous existing big corporate customers and message-centric BlackBerry users, he said, many of which have skipped over the Z10 to wait for the Q10. This enterprise demand takes time to increase, he added, explaining that there's no denying that there's a shift towards companies allowing employees to use their own devices.
"We now expect 2.75 million BB10 shipments May-quarter, up from 2 million previously. Our BB10 estimates for  are unchanged at 10.7 million," he said.
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Benedict Evans of consultancy firm Enders Analysis isn't quite as convinced, calling the launch at one of London's top department stores as a "good publicity stunt."
"Given that was the only place on earth it was on sale it doesn't tell us much. Most sales were to people buying dozens to resell," he told CNBC.com
"Keyboards will probably remain as a niche, but it isn't clear enough people care to make BlackBerry relevant again."
—By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch; Follow him on Twitter