UPDATE 1-BlackBerry shares surge on huge order for new devices

Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:59pm EDT
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* Company says a partner ordered 1 million new devices

* Is the largest ever single purchase order for company

* BlackBerry shares rise further in trading after the bell (Adds analyst comment, background; updates share price move)

By Euan Rocha

TORONTO, March 13 (Reuters) - BlackBerry's volatile shares surged on Wednesday after the smartphone maker said one of its established partners had placed an order for 1 million BlackBerry 10 smartphones, with shipments set to begin immediately.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it is the largest ever single purchase order in its history, a big fillip for the company that is attempting to regain relevance in the ultra-competitive smartphone market, where it has ceded ground to rivals like Apple Inc's iPhone, Samsung Electronics' line of Galaxy devices and other devices powered by Google Inc's Android operating system.

In a make-or-break move to regain market share and return to profit, BlackBerry introduced a new line of smartphones powered by its BlackBerry 10 operating system, to much fanfare earlier this year. The touchscreen version dubbed the Z10 is already on sale in over 20 countries, while a device named the Q10 with a physical keyboard is set to be launched in April.

The company, which has abandoned its old name, Research In Motion, and renamed itself BlackBerry, did not disclose either the location of the "established partner" or the time frame for the device sales. BlackBerry also did not disclose whether the order is for just Z10 devices or both Z10 and Q10 devices.

Despite the lack of detail, analysts view the announcement as a positive, especially since it comes close on the heels of announcements from Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc - the two largest U.S. wireless carriers - that they plan to begin selling the Z10 device later this month.   Continued...