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BlackBerry CEO and analyst disagree on the strength of the BlackBerry Z10's start

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BlackBerry CEO and analyst disagree on the strength of the BlackBerry Z10's start
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is "Yin" to Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette's "Yang," at least when it comes to sales of the BlackBerry Z10. We've already told you how BlackBerry India Managing Director Sunil Dutt said that he had to raise his estimate of Z10 sales in his country by an impressive 40% after the launch. Even more telling is Heins' comment about the launch of the first BlackBerry 10 handset in India. The executive said that five days worth of product went into the sales channel in the country and just two days after the launch, he got an emergency call from Dutt saying that the product had sold out in India. Now, Canadian based BlackBerry is trying to rebuild its inventories in the country..

As of today, the BlackBerry Z10 is available in 21 countries with a U.S.launch coming soon. We could see AT&T launch on March 22nd as current speculation insists. Verizon says it will release the device at the end of this month with T-Mobile hoping to launch in the middle of March. While looking forward to the U.S. release of the all-touch BlackBerry Z10, CEO Heins is happy to see that many buyers of the phone are coming from other platforms. According to BlackBerry India's Dutt, 45% of those who purchased a BlackBerry Z10 in India were switching from a different OS.

Sounds like a major success for BlackBerry, right? Not so fast says Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette, who says that U.K. inventory levels of the first BlackBerry 10 handset are already running above normal and inventory levels in Canada are rising toward normal. Faucette points out that U.K. retailers have cut pricing of the device and his fear is that the lower pricing will lead the market to view the phone as a mid-range model rather than the high-end device that BlackBerry has positioned the phone as. If it becomes a mid-range phone, not only would BlackBerry not be in the same zip code as the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S III, it would also lead to lower profit margins for BlackBerry. Faucette sees 1 to 2 million units of the phone shipping in May, but sees the actual sell-through number a lot-lower.

So who is right, the CEO of BlackBerry, who obviously has a vested interest in the outcome, or an analyst who was bearish on the Z10 even before its launch? As far back as November, Faucette said that BlackBerry 10 would be "Dead on arrival." Could the analyst be pushing the bear side just to make his prediction seem like it is coming true?

We should get an early indication on March 28th when BlackBerry reports its quarterly earnings. But that won't include the U.S. launch and the following quarter's report won't include the physical QWERTY equipped BlackBerry Q10, which many expect to be the real star of BlackBerry 10 but which might not launch until the summer. We might not know until next December if BlackBerry 10 is a success. In the meantime, you can decide to believe Thorsten Heins, James Faucette, or perhaps you can just be in the middle.


source: Reuters, Forbes

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