BlackBerry (BBRY), the Canadian smartphone maker that rolled out a new lineup in January, said one of its “established partners” is buying 1 million BlackBerry 10 phones, the biggest order in the company’s history.
“An order for 1 million devices is a tremendous vote of confidence in BlackBerry 10,” Rick Costanzo, executive vice president of global sales for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company, said yesterday in a statement. “Consumers are ready for a new user experience, and BlackBerry 10 delivers. With strong partner support, coupled with this truly re-invented new platform, we have a powerful recipe for success.”
Krista Seggewiss, a spokeswoman for BlackBerry (BBRY), declined to say who the buyer was or define what the company meant by an “established partner.” BlackBerry works with corporate customers and government agencies, as well as all of the largest carriers in the U.S., its biggest single market.
Verizon Wireless, the biggest mobile service in the U.S., didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on whether it was involved in the transaction. AT&T Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp., the country’s No. 2 and No. 3 wireless providers, declined to comment.
BlackBerry, formerly known as Research In Motion Ltd. (BB), unveiled the BB10 lineup in January. The new phones, which run a redesigned operating system, are the linchpin of its comeback strategy. After pioneering the smartphone market, the company’s global share slipped to single digits in recent years amid competition from Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Google Inc.’s Android.
Separately, Verizon said it will begin taking preorders for the Z10, the flagship BlackBerry 10 model. Verizon will start selling the phone in its stores on March 28. The company is following rival AT&T, which began taking preorders yesterday, ahead of the device going on sale March 22.
The U.S. rollout of the Z10 trails its debut in other countries, a delay that BlackBerry has attributed to a lengthier testing process by American carriers. The U.K. and Canada were the first to offer the phone, within a week of its Jan. 30 unveiling.
A separate model called the Q10, which comes with BlackBerry’s hallmark physical keyboard, will be available in April or May, BlackBerry has said.
T-Mobile USA Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, also began taking preorders for the Z10 this week. The phone will be widely available to consumers by the end of the month.
“We’re excited about the device,” said Mike Sievert, marketing chief at T-Mobile USA, a Bellevue, Washington-based division of Deutsche Telekom AG.
Still, the carrier’s not responsible for the million-phone purchase, he said. “That order isn’t ours.”
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