There's No Right Time to Launch BlackBerry's New Z10

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Tech blogs and websites are all atwitter on the news that AT&T will launch the BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) Z10 on March 15, just one day after the much anticipated Samsung Galaxy S IV launch. Despite reports on the poor timing of the launch, there's really only one thing that can hurt Z10 sales: BlackBerry's OS.

No time like the present
Let's be clear, there is no good time for BlackBerry to introduce its latest phone in the U.S. If the Z10 launched in the fall, it would have been on the heels of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iPhone 5 debut. If it came out a couple months after, that then it would be in direct competition with new Windows Phone offerings by Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) . Launching the day after Samsung's Galaxy S IV debuts obviously isn't ideal, but later this summer Apple is likely to refresh the iPhone, making it yet another bad time to launch a new device and OS. The real battle for BlackBerry isn't about the Z10 launch time; it's about trying to grab OS market share.

Admittedly, that's a tall order to fill, and it's highly unlikely the company can pull it off. Sales of the Z10 in Britain and Canada have been promising for the company, though. In Britain, sales are three times better than previous model sales in the first week, and sales in Canada are up 50% over previous launches. Glentel, a large Canadian mobile phone retailer, said earlier this month that the Z10 was outselling the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S III. But American consumers left BlackBerry for other lovers a long time ago.

BlackBerry used to have 50% smartphone market share in the U.S. just three years ago, but it's plummeted to just 1.6% now. The core of BlackBerry's customers, enterprise customers, have moved away from the company as the iPhone has grown in popularity with companies. Adding insult to injury, Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Windows Phone platform has now taken the No. 3 operating system spot away from BlackBerry with 3% market share. Windows Phones don't have the same amount of app offerings as Android or iOS, and BlackBerry's OS has even less. Even if the BB10 OS was a stellar product that blew away the smartphone competition, the lack of a substantial app ecosystem would make it difficult for consumers to drop the apps and other content on their current devices.

The cold, hard truth
Almost any way you slice it, BlackBerry's odds in the U.S. don't look good. The company may be able to get some existing customers to upgrade to the phone, but Android and iOS simply have too much dominance.

Investors should see the Z10 launch and the BB10 OS as the company's first step in the right direction, but not as its savior in the U.S. market. If the company can hold out long enough and build up a customer base, future updates to the OS (and phones) may start gaining real attention from consumers. The current offering, however, just isn't enough.

Apple is one of BlackBerry's chief opponents, and though the Cupertino company has been at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, there's a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

Read/Post Comments (19) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 6:50 PM, CZZZZZZ wrote:

    re: To educate, amuse and enrich

    You need to new subtitle to describe your site after reading this article.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 6:56 PM, NotAfoolHere wrote:

    The Fool needs to just come out of the closet and admit that it hates Blackberry.

    Give up on trying to cover it up, doing it when no one is looking, stop sneaking around or think that they can pull the wool over our eyes.

    We all see it so there is no more reason to be keep it hiding.

    Just come out and show your pride.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 7:09 PM, Oril wrote:

    So if you don't have a position in any of the stocks mentioned then why did you waste all that time writing such a BS article?

    It must be because you just a foolish $&@"Ing idiot.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 7:09 PM, gordonthebull wrote:

    Chris Neiger....Why are you rehashing old news. The BB10 has revolutionize the smartphone industry with the launch of the Z10. If you read the latest news that 50/33/45 percentage on the new Z10 users in Canada/UK/India were non-blackberry users which wanted a new, refreshed operating system. I for one had a SG2 and a Iphone 4S and converted to the Z10 and the Z10 blows away its competion. What this means is that Blackberry has started recovering some of their lost market share. I am not saying that Blackberry needs to be on top but if only 10% of the IOS/Android users switch to BB10, this would be huge for Blackberry and the stock price will be back to the $30 - $40 range. There will be four additional BB10 phones coming out and one of them will be the Aristo, a 4.65 inch phone that will be their flagship phone. Given the comments that I have read I think everyone will be surprised that the Z10 will sell like hotcakes in the US. Have you read that the German government will purchase up to 40,000 Z10 this year? The Z10 is truly an amazing phone that no competitors can match. Who cares about SG4 will an 8 core processor and the other specs. SG4 needs this power because the Android OS is not an efficient OS and requires extra juice to run whereas the QNX OS is an effecient OS that does not need as much juice to run smooth. The UI experience is most important and there must at least 25% of the current IOS/Android users that care less about the ecosystem. They want the phone for communication and internet functionality. It's this 25% that will switch to the BB10.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 7:23 PM, gman5000 wrote:

    There is definitely some kind of media campaign in the financial and technical press to kill off Blackberry. I wonder if we could do some kind of market survey to find out the percentage holding of stock for these guys in Apple and Google. The negativity is absolutely astounding. Blackberry has spent a long time in development to ensure that the execution of the product is flawless both from a software and a hardware point of view. Apple have been less than stellar in both departments of late. Also, Blackberry and Microsoft need to be credited for the innovation they are showing in developing completely new approaches to the Mobile OS. It is great as a consumer now to have a genuinely tough choice to make as to what platform to go with. The arguement that Blackberry and Microsoft have a very small app inventory is a bogus one as well, THEY BOTH JUST GOT RELEASED!!!!! Geeze Apple and Android have been at this Appstore business for 8 years for crying out loud. Are Microsoft and Blackberry supposed to have the same number of apps in their stores after 4 months and 2 months respectively?? Also most would argue that 95% of the content of the appstores for Android and Apple is pure nonsense and doesn't even work properly.


  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 7:31 PM, marcogaray wrote:

    The writers of this story and others alike. Either have stock in apple, and/or blackberry. I love blackberry. I don't care about samsung or apple.

    Take that!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 7:40 PM, marcogaray wrote:

    And actually I didn't feel enriched or educated with this website I felt amused.

    Take that too!

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 7:42 PM, Oril wrote:

    Sprints decision not to ship the Z10 so that they can push more iphone5 that no one wants may be a decision that finally drives them into bankruptcy. In the most recent quarter this carrier lost an incredible 1.32 billion dollars added to the over twenty billion dollars in debt that it already carries all because if the deal it made with the devil guaranteeing that it would ship over 200 billion dollars worth of iPhones over the next two years. No wonder they are trying to give the company away to a Japanese firm

    Incredible that a wireless operator can lose so much money in this market.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 7:54 PM, TimKnows wrote:

    I swear I will sue one of you idiots if you don't stop publishing garbage like this. I guess you just need a pulse to post an article on this site.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 7:56 PM, MotleyDirtbags wrote:

    Samsung's launch date March 14. Sure. When does it go on sale in the U.S.? I've heard May, maybe even June. What kind of competition is that? Z10 is a great phone. It'll sell millions before the S4 is on the Market.

    Also, it's really amazing too how Samsung can launch a phone and not put it on sale in the U.S. for two months and that's perfectly ok. If BlackBerry does it however it's looked upon as being a botched launch.

    How are your Apple shares doing fools?

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 8:08 PM, magnaman1969 wrote:

    Windows is in 4th place

    BlackBerry is in 3rd

    Get the basic facts straight.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 8:11 PM, magnaman1969 wrote:

    I love how desperate you fools are getting...

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 8:14 PM, NotAfoolHere wrote:

    You can block all the other garbage on this internet so how do you put a block onto this MF page so I can stop listening to this endless self serving crap

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 8:46 PM, eidsonb wrote:

    And the closer we get to the release....the more the shorts will write stuff like this....the earnings call should be a wake up given all that Thorsten has said....

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 9:50 PM, BB104ever wrote:


    They should throw you in jail. you wrote"If the company can hold out long enough and build up a customer base, future updates to the OS (and phones) may start gaining real attention from consumers.The current offering, however, just isn't enough" do you know anything about QNX? I hope you get sued.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 11:02 PM, criticalfool wrote:

    Chris you IQ is hovering close to single digits while BBRY will be triple digits.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2013, at 1:14 AM, PurpleBlue wrote:

    A very biased piece from someone who claims to be neutral. Nuff said! Not worthy of more. Why should I put more effort in my response than the author put into his research. More likely the author knows the positives but completely ignores them. It's a very juvenile piece / writing style.

    A more apt title would be:

    'I'm neutral - but I sure hope the company fails'

    Why not align the title with the content ?

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2013, at 6:20 AM, Arthur1111 wrote:

    Maybe BlackBerry Z10 should be launched on the moon. Do you think that would be the right time to launch??

    Did you attend school at all?

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2013, at 8:40 AM, infektu wrote:

    Pathetic. Zero research.

    It's got 3(three) recommendations!

    Wonder what the IQ of those is :-)

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