T-Mobile to launch BlackBerry Z10 on March 26; U.S. sales off to slow start

T-Mobile to launch BlackBerry Z10 on March 26; U.S. sales off to slow start
Amid signs that the U.S.launch of the BlackBerry Z10fared poorly on Friday, a leaked document revealed that T-Mobile will launch the all-touch BlackBerry 10 model on March 26th. Meanwhile, evidence was piling up showing that the debut of BlackBerry 10 in the U.S. had been a bust. At the two AT&T stores in Manhattan, less than twenty people had come in to the locations specifically for the BlackBerry Z10 and most of those that bought the unit were replacing older BlackBerry models. Earlier Friday, BlackBerry fans were excited when a picture posted on a forum showed an extremely long line apparently waiting to buy the new BlackBerry. But it was all a ludicrous mistake. The line was actually for a performance by Ludacris being held at the Best Buy theater.

Stories from AT&T retail locations from coast to coast show that the carrier really made little effort to market the product with one store in San Francisco having to get the phone from the storeroom when someone wanted to see it. Eventually they left the phone out in the back, far away from a sign advertising the Apple iPhone 5.

Many had questioned why BlackBerry decided to launch the all-touch Z10 first instead of the BlackBerry Q10 with its more familiar physical QWERTY. At the time, CEO Thorsten Heins said that since the Z10 was the more difficult of the two to produce, he wanted to have it out of the way and completed first. But this might have backfired. When you consider that even Google Chairman Eric Schmidt refuses to part with his 'Berry because of the keyboard, you have to wonder how much momentum was lost saving the BlackBerry Q10 for several weeks down the road. "I have some trepidation about going to the virtual keyboard," said  real-estate investor Jonathan Bennett, 37, "I've been holding back from switching to an Android or an iPhone because I love the (physical QWERTY) keyboard." Bennett bought the Z10 anyway, explaining that his company would let him exchange it for the BlackBerry Q10 if necessary.

Still, there are fans of the platform who appreciate the way BlackBerry handles email. Scott Kaylin, a BlackBerry user since 1999, bought a BlackBerry Z10 to combine his work and play phones. He currently uses an older 'Berry for work and has a cracked Samsung Galaxy S III for play. He says that the Android device can't handle the flood of emails he receives each day for business,which usually tops 300. "Finding emails on the Samsung is a disaster," said Kaylin.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile is expected to launch the BlackBerry Z10 on Tuesday which is the same day that it is expected to turn on its first LTE markets officially. The Z10 will support the carrier's LTE service. T-Mobile already offered the phone to its business customers earlier this month for $249.99 with a signed two-year contract. There is no word on how much consumers will be asked to pay for the phone. Verizon is also expected to launch the BlackBerry Z10 this coming Thursday for $199.99 with a signed two-year pact. Sprint is sitting this one out, but will offer the QWERTY equipped BlackBerry Q10 which is expected to be available in about 6 to 8 weeks.

source: WSJ, TmoNews, WMPoweruser
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