BlackBerry Z10: Are Sellouts Misleading?

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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**Editor's Note: Click here  for our list of December's hottest selling smartphones.**

BlackBerry won't start selling its new BB10 smartphones in the U.S. until mid-March, but reports indicate that sales in the U.K. are off to a good start.

BlackBerry Z10The BlackBerry Z10, the company's new, touchscreen flagship smartphone – based on its new BlackBerry 10 operating system – went on sale in the U.K. this week, and industry insiders are cautiously calling it a success. The question, however, is whether that's based more on demand or short supply.

“Our U.K. store surveys following the recent launch of the Z10 smartphone indicated solid initial sales," said Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley. "However, limited initial supply was cited as the reason for early post-launch stockouts at some carrier stores versus overwhelming demand. In fact, our surveys indicated most stores received [fewer] than 15 units and sold a majority of these units over a two- to three-day period, leading to initial stock-outs at a few stores and low inventory levels at others."

BlackBerry, fka as Research In Motion, has seen its stock price double over the past three months in anticipation of the new phones, which have impressed carriers and now, the company's fans. But long-term viability remains an issue for analysts, who aren't sure the once-great manufacturer is ready to return to prominence.

"While we are impressed with the features of the new BB10 OS and Z10 smartphone, we believe BlackBerry has only closed the gap with more mature smartphone OS platforms and offers limited differentiating services or features to win back customers from more mature ecosystems. We reiterate our SELL rating and $9 price target."

BlackBerry has struggled to compete in recent years against Apple and a bevy of Android phone vendors that have taken the smartphone world by storm.

Meantime, company CEO Thorstein Heins said this week that he's anxious for the Z10 to launch in the U.S. He told the Associated Press he's disappointed that it won't happen before the middle of next month, citing a more rigid testing process in the States.

" ... we're working with all our carrier partners to speed it up as much as we can," Heins told the AP.

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