What does an order for one million BlackBerry handsets mean?

One Million Orders!
By Chris Umiastowski on 14 Mar 2013 07:49 pm EDT

Yesterday was a big news day for BlackBerry. Verizon announced its Z10 launch details, BlueFin released a report for its research clients saying that BlackBerry has ramped up orders big time, and of course BlackBerry press released its largest order ever

Yup, some “partner” ordered one million devices with shipments starting immediately. I’d like to shed some light on what this means based on my own experience covering the company for well over a decade now. It sucks that this is still so necessary, but we have articles like this one from TechCrunch that just show off how little people understand.

First of all, when companies get record orders it is totally normal for them to pound their chest in the form of a press release. If the news is either good press or material to investors then it should be press released. Obviously this one million device order was both good press AND significant. Just look at how the stock shot up after the news hit the wire.  So for TechCrunch to refer to the release as “pretty hilarious” is an enormous sign of ignorance. 

When companies get record orders it is totally normal for them to pound their chest in the form of a press release

Next - who placed the order? We don’t know and it’s entirely normal for this kind of information to remain unpublished in press releases. Usually the company issuing the press release (in this case, BlackBerry) would love to share the news with the world. But unless they have permission from the customer, it ain’t gonna happen. In fact I’ve seen situations where the seller thought they had permission, issued a press release, and then was essentially slapped in the face by the buyer because of the misunderstanding. Rule of thumb:  NEVER issue a buyer’s name in a press release unless you are absolutely sure they are OK with you doing so. 

The buyer must have been either a US wireless carrier or an international distributor, as far as I can tell.  Kevin and I had a quick chat about this and we both feel it is more likely a US carrier based on the order size and the timing. 

One million devices is a really nice order

The order size itself is pretty significant for BlackBerry.  They said it was the largest single order ever placed.  I believe it.  In the past when I’ve dug into carrier orders I believe Verizon used to place initial orders of about 500-600 thousand.  That was pretty much at the peak of BlackBerry business in the US market.  So from where I sit, one million devices is a really nice order. 

Does this mean US sales are set to hit new records?  I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion either.  Remember that BlackBerry hasn’t had a modern device released into the market in quite a long time.  There are a lot of buyers waiting to upgrade.  So this could just represent a one-time spike in sales.  But that said, we’re all loving our Z10 devices, and I think an order of this size from a partner is further proof that BlackBerry is back.

We will keep digging, and if we learn anything else about this order (or others like it), we’ll certainly post updates.

Topics: BBRY Editorial

Reader comments

What does an order for one million BlackBerry handsets mean?


Added to my long position on the pull back today. If there's more dip tomorrow thanks to the S4 announcement, I may add more. They don't have to win the smartphone war to make me some money!

Good article, I was glad to read the press release. Looking forward to the reaction tomorrow from the SG4 launch.

I think the most important detail in the release was that it was indeed 1 million "BlackBerry 10" devices. BBOS devices would carry a much lower average selling price and would sour the news a little.

I posted a comment on the Tech Crunch article and they deleted it within minutes

Have you ever heard of an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). Apparently not. They are not releasing the name of the company because they don't have the written authorization to share the operating name of the company in the press release (as they stated). For now the only thing that is hilarious is your iFanBoy article.

I just read that comment on the Tech Crunch article.... So if they did delete it, it has been re-instated.

I find it interesting in the cnet article about the luke warm pre-order from ATT. I wonder how many more people would pre-order with a premier account if they could. I uld have. Instead, I pre-ordered through Best Buy. Their loss.

I want it to be Sprint..and I want them to come out and say that they were just kidding about not carrying the Z 10. I am still pissed!

Exactly my dream, after all the harassing I have done to every possible Sprint site and forum this could be a nice payback for me....unfortunately not likely....

Who is Techcrunch??? Its just another Bashing BUT I LOVE WHEN CB HITS BACK AT EVERY NEGATIVE BASHING ARTICLE, I SALUTE U GUYS, Thanks for Defending our Berrys and tell them to JUMP off

One Million devices mean 500 million in revenue assuming ASP is 500 a piece. But considering it was such a large volume I think they will probably received less than 500 per unit( my assumption). One million devices also mean 1 million new users to bb10. Plus the current user base of lets say 500 000, just my conservative estimate. This means in the near future BB10 will have a estimated potential user base of 1.5 million. At what point would it be economically viable for developers to start devoting resources to bb10? Maybe 10 million? 100 million? 1.5 million users is significant for any business I would think but who am I to say what is significant or not. Anyhow Netflix, instagram, Flipboard, and all non bb10 developers all suck. GO Z10!!

Posted via CB10

Exactly pure ignorance of TechCrunch! I really thoughtthough the stock would have jumped up much higher. Regardless this is huge for BB and bb fans even though it doesnt impress any of those haters who keep bashing BlackBerry. Just glad they are doing way better than what everyone was saying and expecting.

Nice article below posted back on Jan 30th from an Android journalist.

AH Tech Talk: Why Blackberry 10 Will Succeed in the Mobile Market

My best friends company just ordered a bunch of phones but she doesn't know how many and she seen this and got excited :)

Posted via CB10

You know what I don't understand? Why is it that when Home Depot switches to iphone, BB shares tanked. That was like 10 000 orders. And all the news was doom and gloom.

But when BB suddenly sells 1 f*cking MILLION, the shares go up only ever so slightly? It's like there's all these internet writers or supposed experts who have a short position on BB and they just spread bad news because it's advantageous to them. It's wrong and unethical, and just makes me livid.

Ya totally agree with you! Theres a lot of people who have money invested for BB to fail so any bad news is a good excuse to drive down their stock. Any good news for them the stock only slightly goes up.

My personal guess is it might be from Indonesia, arguably blackberrys biggest market. There's an Apple like cult following there for Blackberry, it may really be possible.

The US market's future is still hazy. American's tend to be tougher critics, it may be harder to saturate the US market than international.

Solid information in the article. Clears up the legal and business end pretty clearly. However; there are still going to be those who think that businesses (and fansites for that matter) are obligated to give information that for various reasons, legal or otherwise, they simply can not.

Samsung's market cap is well over 200 billion, Blackberry is 8 billion so I would be happy selling 1/10th of what the S4 is expected to sell, globally... but we both know Blackberry is going to sell more than that. :)

The true value of Blackberry will rise, bears can only suppress the share for so long . Shareholders will profit handsomely, why? Because the Z10 is really that good and we have not even talked about the Q10.

Posted via CB10

The competition is still wondering "How can this be? They should have died by now?" Well thank goodness BlackBerry is Back and not only BACK but with a unique and quite powerful, innovative and very expandable RTOS that just blows the competition completely out of the water. Good Read, thank you.....

I would have thought it more likely to be a multinational carrier like Vodafone, or Telefonica.
The demise of BlackBerry in the US, along with Apples penalties for carrying other full screen phones makes me doubt you logic.

Posted via CB10

The US is still a huge market, even if BlackBerry s market share has gone down recently. And btw since the press release says 1 million "BB10 Devices" it could mean that it's 500,000 Z10's and 500,000 Q10's, which makes a lot of sense if it's Verizon or AT&T

Posted via CB10

It was most likely a large US carrier, more importantly an order of this size means whoever ordered this is sure as heck committed to selling this product and that's always good news :)

Posted via CB10 powered by BB10

48% of the shares traded of $BBRY today were sold short. A Lot of big time financial firms make a lot of money when $BBRY stock goes down. So they capitalize on the news like Home Depot dropping 10,000 BlackBerry's for old iPhone 4S' and play down good side news like the Germany Govt purchasing 40,000 BlackBerry Z10s at approximately $3000 each, and orders of 1 million bb10s.

Almost half of all shares of $BBRY we sold short today! The day after the 1 million news... it's astounding. These large firms, hedge funds or whatever are doing everything they can to keep the stock down, even getting analysts to publish bogus news reports of bad sales. (Pacific Crest)

Come 28 March I wonder what they will do. There is no doubt that BlackBerry is back and the company will return to profits.

Posted from my Zed10!

Why is short selling even legal?
There are about million more ways to make something fail than to make it succeed, so how is it good for anyone (for industry or innovation or competition) to bet on something failing and then doing everything to make it fail?

My guess is Claro. Remeber Blackberry Z10 launch in Latin America is arround the corner and Claro is the mayor carrier all over LATAM...

Journalism is business this day. Some like TechCrunch has thrown professionalism above for a pot of porridge.

US government will still have to buy from a carrier, so I'm guessing whatever carrier they have a deal with for cell service is the one that placed the order. I don't suspect that a carrier would buy one million units from BlackBerry if they didn't already have a committed buyer or set of buyers. That would be quite the gamble to take.


Posted via CB10

I've only owned BlackBerry and windows phones that being said 1 friend owns the Samsung windows phone and it is a gorgeous device a couple other buddies own I phones and they're pretty nice to the remainder (minus 3 fellow z10 owners) are a bunch of fandroids ranging from s3s to notes to galaxy's etc that being said and having an opportunity to play around with all said phones the z10 from a self proclaimed tech geek is by far the slickest best one handed perfect screen sized phone offering the smoothest OS available to date those who disagree have serious loyalty issues to certain tech companies and the only prize you win is missing out on something awesome...FACE!!!!! :D

Posted via the Batcave

I was watching Erin Burnett on CNN and she had a piece today on new phones and launches and stated it was a combination of Verizon and AT&T that made the order for one million z10's.

Posted via CB10

Could be a bulk order for Verizon and Vodafone, talk of V buying Vodafone Group and getting its 45% back and a worldwide footprint....

While a merger would be theoretically possible, the relative size of the companies would seem to make it unlikely that VZW would be buying Voda.

Does it really matter who ordered the 1M, Chris? Would that make the product much more accessible or quicker to 1M new or existing clients? Of course. Or is it a sales pitch to the general public? Maybe. What matters to me is that whoever did it, and all those who now sell and service the new and existing Blackberrys, provide a top-notch immaculate product related service to the end user. In a world full of communication inefficiencies even among bulk retailers like this prime example, make the comeback kid worthwhile for the real people that matters. We need 'the customer satisfaction' factored in as priority number one to regain friends, Mystery Buyer!

This is fantastic news for BlackBerry. I have been 'selling' my z10 to my friends and colleagues. They are all impressed.

Posted via CB10

Awesome that you used the Dr. Evil picture that was the first thing that popped into my head when hearing the news. Blackberry is back no mater what the nay sayers and shorts say.

"BlackBerry is back" that's exactly what it means. Not "BlackBerry will crunch appl and Google in months".
But the news seems to scare some ... particularly those who printed "it's not going to happen, BB10 is DOA".
Thanks Chris.

Verizon trying to beat AT&T to the punch. Launch earlier than AT&T. They are the only carrier US to offer the white Z10 . They want to be known as who lead the charge in the US on BlackBerries behalf and rightly so. Carriers playing cloak and dagger. LOL! BlackBerry is back Baby! Go Big Red!

one good thing is whoever bought the million are going to train their sales people properly to move the product.once that happens ,they,ll probably order another couple million.just logical,so how.s that for a spin.

God I hope that this means that the consumer market is sending some love Blackberry's way! All of us in countries not America (I'm in AUS) need American app developers to see value in BBOS so that they'll either develop for, or port their apps over to BBOS. I think, honestly, that the Z10 has the ability to topple Windows Phone and make some savage ground on Android, if not iOS as well! Bring on more BB10 devices, OR BB11?

I think this order is quite significant in many ways. First, it has a huge psychological impact on the company, the market and the general public. It shows confidence in BB and that the company is on the long road to recovery. It will have positive knock on effects in terms of 3rd party support in the area of apps. It will also enhance the support for subsequent BB products like the Q10. Second, it has real impact on BB bottom line. We should remember that the break even point for the Z10 is 12-14 million devices. Seems pretty clear to me that if one Teleco orders a million, BB will have no problem hitting this number. This in turn will give BB the time to bring the Z10 up to its full potential . This is the exciting bit. BB is on a righteous path and all the competition can do is watch and react in a retrograde manner.

That dude from Tech Crunch sounds like he's barely qualified to report on a grade 6 science fair. I don't understand how people like that get jobs writing. Let him know what a moron he is. Soon these BlackBerry haters will be out of things to say. Watching them eat their words is so satisfying.

Posted via CB10

although it's a good sign from a distributor / carrier, they are consumer phones, so this 1 miljon phones will end up in the and of consumers so are not a part of extra sale for BB.

It just shows that somebody is doing their homework and seeing the reaction of the z10 globally: selling out in UK, UAE, and other parts of the world, ebay, craiglist, amazon, etc. Its time to believe in the hype!!!!

I see - and the persons high up in the BB hierarchy that were involved never asked for permission to disclose the name of the partner ? sounds a tad incredible. after all, they did not say the partner requested annonymity in the press release.

BIG orders are quite big. Flip my bird at the haters. It's a big bird. :D

Blackberry is back!!! So don't forget it!

"...American's tend to be tougher critics,....."
More like, tend to be lemmings of whomever/whatever has larger marketing $$$ !

A most interesting thought yet to be pondered was WHICH device was ordered for 1 million Z10 or the Q10?! A side thought is there a mix of the two devices ordered and what ratio?!

Yea buddy!! I wont be due for an upgrade until september, so more than likely id get the Q10. However if i was due for an upgrade now, it would be very, VERY hard to not buy a Z10. lol. BBRY FOREVER!

As the familiar saying goes "Once u go black... U'll never look back " 6figure orders r already impressive but 7figure order is almost unheard of!

I'm hoping the order materialize & prove critics / skeptics wrong.

Posted via CB10