BlackBerry shares drop as Home Depot switches to iPhone

Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:26pm EST
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* U.S. home improvement retailer moving managers to Apple

* Defection is blow to BlackBerry after BB10 launch

* Home Depot declines to say when it made the decision

* BlackBerry shares down 3 pct in afternoon trading

TORONTO, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Shares of BlackBerry fell 3 percent on Monday after U.S. home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc said it is replacing the BlackBerry smartphones it provides its executives and managers with Apple Inc's iPhone.

The news is a setback for BlackBerry as it fights to retain its base of big corporate clients and government agencies. The recent launch of a revamped line of smartphones powered by its reengineered BlackBerry 10 operating system was a crucial step in that effort.

BlackBerry, which is changing its legal name from Research In Motion Ltd, unveiled two new devices - a full touch-screen smartphone dubbed the Z10 and a more traditional physical keyboard version named Q10 - at a launch event in New York on Jan. 30.

The company hopes the make-or-break new line will help it win back market share ceded in recent years to the likes of Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, whose Galaxy line is powered by Google Inc's market-leading Android operating system.

The news of Home Depot's defection sent BlackBerry shares 3.8 percent lower to $15.86 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq on Monday, overshadowing media reports that its Z10 device made a strong debut in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday. Since their unveiling, the devices have been well received in Britain and Canada. The all-important U.S. debut comes next month.   Continued...