Today marks the one month anniversary for the launch of the BlackBerry Z10 in Canada. Tomorrow the team will posting their 'Z10 - one month later' thoughts, but today I felt it would be useful to recount the positive indicators we've been seeing in the marketplace, as reported by a variety of sources. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think it captures the most important points.
On January 30th, when the launch even first happened, we got our first positive indicator coming from the executive team during the Q&A session with the press. Executives said that pre-orders for the Z10 in Canada were coming, in large part, from people who were not currently BlackBerry customers. I mentioned this in the 3rd last paragraph of this article. I know that Todd Cowpland of CIBC wrote about this in one of his research notes, but I'm not sure how many other analysts noticed this data point.
The very next day the device hit UK stores. We started seeing some reports of stock outages pretty much that same morning. So far we don't know how much inventory stores had, but it is better to see stock outs than full shelves with no customers, wouldn't you agree?
Within a few days we had the official Canadian launch of the Z10 on all major carriers. BlackBerry issued a statement the next day saying that the launch results were 50% better than any other prior launch day for the company. Of course this could have been because it was a well co-ordinated launch across multiple carriers, or because everybody with a BlackBerry 7 device has been dying for an upgrade. But the positive indicators continued.
Before February was half way over the UAE launch happened. The media in that country was all over the idea that demand outstripped supply.
When demand is tight, stores start holding back on sales of off-contract phones and prefer to sell to people who will sign a contract. This has been happening in Canada and the UK for sure, as pointed out in this forum post.
At this point it would again be fair to ask the question, "So was this really just a case of BlackBerry not shipping enough phones?" I definitely believe they would prefer to manufacture some scarcity to have the psychological perception of a strong launch. But it seems they genuinely got caught off guard with the big demand.
Check out this Google translation of an interview Thorsten Heins had with a German news outlet. In a nutshell, Heins says that they had a fairly ambitious plan and have seen higher demand then they expected. He sees sales numbers every day and is quite pleased with the success of this Z10 launch. As a result, they've had to increase manufacturing production.
Closing in on the end of the first launch month, Canadian retailer GLENTEL reported that the Z10 was the #1 selling smartphone across its store base in February. So for people who thought the sellouts were really just driven by poor supply rather than strong demand, think again. Obviously the iPhone and Android are not in short supply. Yet the Z10 outsold them at GLENTEL owned retail locations such as WirelessWave, and in Costco wireless kiosks.
Getting hard data would be nice. But getting comparable sales data across competing products is at least better than hearing about sellouts. It tells you very clearly that the reason for a sellout is not JUST weak supply. It's a sign of strong demand. Period.
Finally, over the last few days we've started to see some public commentary by BlackBerry executives about the ability of the Z10 to suck people back into the BlackBerry family. As I just wrote about recently, Rick Costanzo said about one third of Z10 buyers are coming from outside of the BlackBerry customer base across the 50 markets they've launched in so far. That's awesome.
So there you have it, folks. A handy summary of what I think are some of the most important positive indicators of the strength of the Z10 launch so far.
And it hasn't even hit US soil yet ...