BlackBerry Looking for Better Buzz When Z10 Hits T-Mobile, Verizon
Launched with little fanfare or promotion at AT&T last Friday, the Z10’s U.S. debut was widely panned by analysts on Monday — something of a letdown, given the solid showing the device put on in Canada and the U.K.. “Our retail checks at over 20 store locations since March 22, including at AT&T, Best Buy and RadioShack, revealed a surprising lack of marketing support and poor positioning of the product,” Goldman analyst Simona Jankowski wrote in a Monday note to clients. “We also saw limited advertising around the launch.”
Over at Citigroup, Jim Suva had a similarly dim assessment of the Z10’s AT&T launch. He said his store checks revealed “shockingly low support by AT&T with extremely limited signage and more signage for Samsung and Apple products.”
That’s unfortunate. The U.S. market is critical to BlackBerry’s turnaround, so reports of a rough opening weekend for the device on which that turnaround is based are discouraging indeed. So, too, is this talk about the weak positioning and marketing given the Z10. Lack of carrier enthusiasm certainly doesn’t bode well for sales here in the U.S.
That said, a first weekend on a first carrier isn’t a litmus test for the Z10’s broader launch in the U.S. And while the apparent lack of early in-store promotion for the device at AT&T is concerning, it seems to belie the carrier’s professed enthusiasm for the device.
“BlackBerry 10 is an important new addition to our smartphone lineup, and we’re proud to be the first U.S. carrier to offer it,” AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel told AllThingsD. “Many consumers took advantage of our pre-sales, and we expect it to be popular with our business customers.”
Of course, if AT&T were as proud to carry BlackBerry 10 as it claims, it would probably be showcasing the Z10 a bit more, and would be giving the device the sort of shelf space typically associated with major smartphone launches. That it’s not shows just how dramatically the smartphone landscape has changed over the past few years, and just how steep the uphill battle that BlackBerry faces really is.
BlackBerry will report its fourth-quarter financial results on Thursday.