Mystery buyer of one million BlackBerry Z10s revealed as electronics distributor

By Danny Palmer
27 Mar 2013 View Comments
BlackBerry BB10 apps

The mystery buyer of one million BlackBerry Z10s has been revealed by research firm Detwiler Fenton as Brightstar, an electronics distributor responsible for distributing mobile devices to network carriers including Verizon.

Revealed earlier this month, the deal represented the biggest single order in BlackBerry's history, with the firm describing it as "a tremendous vote of confidence" in BlackBerry 10. No actual information was given out about who the "established partner" was, but Detwiler Fenton believes Brightstar will be handling distribution of the BlackBerry Z10 for Verizon to big chain retailers and supermarkets.

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According to Detwiler Fenton managing director Mark Gerber, the move represents bad news for BlackBerry.

"We think Verizon isn't very confident this is going to be a very big-selling product," he told The Guardian. "Normally, it would want to limit the channels the handsets were distributed to initially and really control that process."

This situation would mean that Brightstar, rather than Verizon, holds the contract with BlackBerry, meaning that the distrbutor rather than the carrier will carry the risk if Z10s don't sell well.

"By handing that off to Brightstar, it suggests that [Verizon] don't think it's a really hot product," said Gerber.

BlackBerry's US Z10 launch hasn't gone particularly well, with shares in the Canadian firm plunging after "tepid" business in its first week. As a result, BlackBerry stock has been downgraded from "buy" to "neutral" by investment bank Goldman Sachs.

"Our retail checks at over 20 store locations since March 22, including at AT&T, Best Buy and RadioShack, revealed a surprising lack of marketing support and poor positioning of the product," said Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski, adding "We also saw limited advertising around the launch."

Despite a somewhat shaky start in the UK, which saw some mobile providers cut the price of the Z10 a month after its launch, BlackBerry UK and Ireland managing director, Rob Orr, recently told Computing that the firm is happy with BlackBerry 10's reception in the market.

"If you look at the way these guys operate," he said "they will put short-term offers in place for consumers at different points in time. So it's perfectly normal. I have no feelings whatsoever, quite honestly. Momentum's been great, so there's no complaints."

BlackBerry is set to reveal its earnings report tomorrow.

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