Research In Motion Ltd. launched its new BlackBerry smartphone in Canada, with telecom carriers reporting strong sales of the new device that is crucial to the company’s comeback attempt.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company’s shares gained nearly 7% on Tuesday, rising for the second day in a row as Canadian carriers such as BCE Inc. reported record preorders and preregistrations of the new BlackBerry Z10 phone–a touchscreen device with a slightly bigger screen than Apple Inc.’s iPhone.
In the U.K., where the BlackBerry brand remains strong, customers lined up to buy the device and analysts reported that some wireless retailers were selling out of the new model.
“Our initial checks indicate that sales in the U.K. are off to a strong start,” said Jeffries & Co. analyst Peter Misek, noting some stores sold out of the device.
Canada’s Rogers Communications Inc., meanwhile, said “thousands” had signed up early to get hold of the new BlackBerry.
“People are really excited to see something fresh and new,” said Andrew MacLeod, RIM’s managing director for Canada.
One customer switching back to BlackBerry was Akilan Thurarirasa, who purchased his own BlackBerry Z10 at the Toronto Eaton Centre on Tuesday while talking on his Galaxy Note 2, a Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. device.”I’ve used BlackBerrys, an iPhone and Samsung,” said Mr. Thurarirasa, 28 years old.”Now I’m going to BlackBerry.”
Winning back the many millions who have long left BlackBerry for competing smartphones, though, remains a major challenge for RIM. In Toronto the optimism around the BlackBerry didn’t manifest in any queues.
Across from the Yonge-Dundas Square Best Buy store with the new BlackBerry about to go on sale, Ryerson University student Grace Lo, 18, was sitting with a colleague, two iPhones resting on their table alongside a coffee. Both she and Bryan Chiu, 19, are former BlackBerry users, both having since switched to iPhones.
“There’s more apps, there’s more things to do,” Ms. Lo said.”My dad originally wanted to try the new BlackBerry 10, but he heard it was touchscreen and had no keyboard, so he was kind of disappointed.”