Can BlackBerry Win Over American Consumers This Weekend?

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After years of hype and months of anticipation for what could be the comeback of the decade, BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY ) has brought its first next-generation handset to the United States. Dubbed the Z10, the new handset comes with a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB memory, 4G LTE, an 8MP rear camera and a 4.2-inch display. The most important feature, however, is the new operating system -- BlackBerry 10.

BlackBerry enthusiasts have praised the OS for its inventive ideas, the seamless implementation and the elimination of buttons. Critics have also been impressed, but they all seem to share similar concerns.

"…The gestures aren't hard, but they are also not intuitive at all," Popular Science's wrote in his review. "Hand the Z10 to someone and they'll have no idea how to do anything."

CNET's Jessica Dolcourt seemed to be one of those people. "The Z10's unintuitive gesture paradigm creates a learning curve, and a long list of OS inefficiencies and omissions sour the experience," she wrote in her review.

The Verge's Joshua Topolsky had some criticism of the interface as well, saying that it "zigs when you expect it to zag." However, he was ultimately satisfied with some of BlackBerry's creations.

"I think BlackBerry's concept of the upward swipe to take you home works as it should -- I didn't find myself wishing for a home button," Topolsky wrote in January. "Actually, it reminded me in a rather distinct way of webOS, and when I went back to other phones, I found myself wishing for the gesture."

Reviewers' comments may have been mixed, but they could not keep some Americans from lining up at Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) to buy the Z10.

Unlike Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ), which typically releases its products at 8:00 a.m., BlackBerry began selling the Z10 at midnight last night. CrackBerry interviewed the first buyer at one Best Buy location, who said that he was a "BlackBerry fanatic" and is "glad to be the first guy" to buy the new handset.

The Wall Street Journal is conducting a poll to gauge consumer interest in the device, asking, "Will you buy the BlackBerry Z10?"

Of the roughly 4,000 people that have voted thus far, 52.8 percent (2,077) said "yes," versus 34.6 percent (1,360) who said "no." The remaining 12.6 percent (497 votes) remain undecided.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins told the Financial Times that the numbers from both the enterprise and consumer markets are "looking good."

"I call this a trend because I want to get a few more data under my belt before I really call it a substantial success, but right now all indicators are looking green and really good," he said.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

(c) 2013 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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