Late Wednesday, shares of BlackBerry (NASDAQ:
) spiked higher into the close after an interesting press release
declared that the company had sold one million BlackBerry 10
smartphones to an "established partner."
The release gave no indication who the partner was, or even
what type of BlackBerry 10 devices they were (there are two, the
Z10 and Q10).
Still, that many BlackBerry phones in one order limits the
list of suspects significantly. BlackBerry remains a favorite
among corporations, but few have a million employees, and those
that do, generally aren't the type of companies to give their
) for example, employs about 2.1 million workers, while
) a cool 1.9 million. But neither of these companies is the kind
to give the majority of their workers phones.
If it was a specific customer that purchased the devices, it
seems more likely to be a government agency. The U.S. Department
of Defense employs well over three million. The DoD has had a
long history with BlackBerry, but due to its high security
standards, the agency requires extensive testing before approving
devices for use.
In fact, the DoD
didn't approve BlackBerry 7
devices until just last May -- well over six months after they
went on sale. There haven't been any reports of DoD approving
BlackBerry 10 devices, so unless that announcement is rapidly
forthcoming, it seems unlikely that the DoD bought the
It could have been a foreign buyer. Although BlackBerry's
popularity has experienced a significant decline in the developed
world, the company remains a top smartphone choice for many in
the developing world. India, in particular, remains a large
market for BlackBerry.
India has virtually no land lines, instead relying almost
wholly on mobile phones. According to
The Globe and Mail
, the country has roughly 900 million mobile subscribers.
BlackBerry's Z10 went on sale in India last month, several weeks
before U.S. buyers will get a chance to purchase the phone.
Although it would make the press release misleading, the buyer
might have been a U.S. mobile carrier. In particular, AT&T
) and Verizon (NYSE:
) would be possibilities. Sprint (NYSE:
) has only committed to carrying the BlackBerry Q10, and won't
get the device at all for at least another month.
AT&T is set to release BlackBerry's Z10 on March 22, while
Verizon will follow on March 28. Could one of these carriers,
seeing strong pre-order demand, have committed to purchasing a
million of the devices?
At any rate, the release was potent enough to propel shares of
BlackBerry Wednesday afternoon, but will it sustain the company
over the longer-term? Rival Samsung is set to unveil its next
flagship phone -- the Galaxy S4 -- at an event Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Apple (NASDAQ:
) is rumored to be prepping the iPhone 5S, a device which could
include significant new technologies like a thumb scanner.
The smartphone market continues to be hyper-competitive and
BlackBerry certainly has its hands full. Shares of the Canadian
tech giant traded near $15.40 Thursday, down over 1.5% on the
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