BlackBerry shares dive on reports of muted U.S. debut for Z10

Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:09am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - Shares of BlackBerry fell nearly 8 percent on Friday after reports of a flat response to the launch of its new Z10 smartphone in the vitally important U.S. market.

The well-reviewed device, whose success is essential if BlackBerry is to reestablish itself as a power in the smartphone industry, finally hit U.S. store shelves early on Friday, nearly two months after being formally unveiled.

Several analysts and media reports found the debut lackluster.

"This morning we visited and called stores to survey early demand for the Blackberry Z10," said Hudson Square Research analyst Daniel Ernst. "We found no lines, no signage announcing the launch, and clerks told us they had very few pre-orders."

The uninspiring turnout hurt BlackBerry shares, which ended the day down 7.7 percent at $14.91 on the Nasdaq. The Canadian company's Toronto-listed shares fell 8 percent to close at C$15.19.

Many analysts argue that the Z10's performance in the hyper-competitive U.S. market could well decide whether BlackBerry can turnaround its faded fortunes.

BlackBerry, which is already selling the new touch-screen smartphone in about 25 countries, aims to make the Z10's new operating system the clear No. 3 platform in the market, a realistic but still difficult challenge, analysts say.

"I think the U.S. will be a challenge for BlackBerry more so than some of the countries where they have already launched," said Morningstar analyst Brian Colello.   Continued...

A new Blackberry Z10 smartphone is displayed at a store in New York, March 22, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid