**Editor's Note: Click here for our list of February's hottest selling smartphones to see the BlackBerry Z10's competition.**
The stronger-than-expected numbers BlackBerry reported at the end of last week are enough to boost the confidence of at least a handful of industry insiders.
The Canada-based smartphone maker made a $98 million profit and sold 1 million Z10 handsets in its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended on March 2. The Z10 debuted in parts of Canada and Europe in February. The phone, the first based on the new BB10 operating system, just launched in the U.S. a week ago.
In all, BlackBerry sold 6 million smartphones and 370,000 PlayBook tablets in its fourth quarter. It was just a year ago that BlackBerry – which officially changed its name from Research In Motion to its well-known brand earlier this year – reported a loss of $125 million.
“Now, 1 million Z10 sales is only about 2 percent of quarterly iPhone sales, but it’s a huge step up for a company many have given up for dead, and to make a profit in the process just shows that the company has far more strength than most people think," noted Carl Howe, Yankee Group VP of research, commenting specifically on a CNET article.
Howe also noted that there are three groups of natural buyers for BlackBerry 10 devices: dyed-in-the-wool BlackBerry fans, feature phone upgraders and businesses with BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) infrastructures.
"We see BlackBerry surprising everyone and becoming the third big smartphone ecosystem, moving ahead of Windows mobile because of these natural buying segments. Today's good earnings announcement just reinforces that view," Howe said.
In the smartphone segment, Samsung and Apple are far and away the top two manufacturers in terms of sales. In operating systems, it's Google's Android and Apple's iOS in the top spots. But the fight for third position in both seems to wide open – something BlackBerry hopes to take advantage of. Right now, Nokia and its Lumia smartphones, and Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, appear to be its closest rivals.