June 5th was another milestone day in the global rollout of BlackBerry 10, with the full-qwerty BlackBerry Q10 officially becoming available in the USA.
To help spread the word, BlackBerry's Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear was in New York City yesterday talking to the media, and we had the chance to sit down with him and ask him a few questions. With BlackBerry in their quiet period leading up to earnings at the end of this month we kept the scope of the conversation to the Q10 launch (no talking sales numbers, etc).
Be sure to watch the video interview above as we talk about the Q10, the demand for it from loyal BlackBerry fans, and its support from both carriers and enterprises. For those who can't watch the video (you really should!), keep reading for some of the highlights.
On demand for the BlackBerry Q10...
I asked Kristian the infamous Z10 or Q10? question straight up, to which he replied that he currently was using the Z10, but he made it clear that this is the phone *soo many* BlackBerry users have been waiting for:
"A lot of people have been waiting for this device. This is what the BlackBerry lovers have been really, really looking forward to. And it is a fantastic experience, the best of the best, and only from BlackBerry. There is really nobody else who can provide that experience with full touch and with a great, best keyboard."
I've always felt that the competition has simply conceded the keyboard market to BlackBerry, and this was a sentiment that Kristian shared as well:
"If you look at the QWERTY market as an addressable market, this is our market. This is our space. It builds on our credibility. It builds on something only we can offer."
Demand for the Q10 extends into enterprises too of course, where there has been a pent up demand for BES 10.1 services and the new BlackBerry Q10 to launch:
"60% of all Fortune 500 companies are testing, have ordered or are piloting as we speak."
Bottom line, the Q10 is a solid phone and it's going to be a solid seller for BlackBerry over the months ahead with the people who have been waiting for it.
On carrier support...
BlackBerry is clearly happy that they have the support from all four major US carriers, and that they are launching the device at (roughly) the same time and at a price point that appeals to both enterprise and consumers:
"What we are proud and pleased about is that the US carriers are launching it at the $199.99 price point (T-Mobile at $99), which is a consumer price point as well. Carriers are expressing their support - there is a lot of training, a lot of collaboration."
And with all four carriers launching at the same time, you're now going to see exposure, advertising and marketing ramp up in the US.
On launch timing...
Following up on our editorial earlier this week regarding the timing of Q10 launch (so many CrackBerry readers we're expecting/hoping it would land in May), I asked Kristian who's to blame in terms of the Q10 not landing even sooner in the USA:
"BlackBerry always has an interest in rolling out the phones as fast as possible across the globe."
While those in the US have had to wait among the longest to have the chance to get their hands on the Q10, looking at the rollout globally BlackBerry is doing well. According to Kristian, BlackBerry achieved 255 T.A.s (technical acceptances by 255 carriers) in record time. Comparing the Z10 to Q10 rollouts, they have even improved, compressing the launch time windows across markets. Different carriers have different requirements for testing the phones on their networks, etc. So while Kristian didn't come out and directly blame the US carriers for taking longer here to get things approved here, that was still my takeaway. As far as the Q10 hardware goes, it's ready. Things just seem to be taking a little longer in the US. The good news is that the Q10 is finally in the US - that wait is over.
Watch the video...
Be sure to watch the video above!