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Verizon Joins BlackBerry Z10 Party as Lenovo Buyout Talk Persists

**Editor’s Note: Click here for our list of February’s hottest selling smartphones to see the BlackBerry Z10’s competition.**

Verizon Wireless customers will be able to get their hands on the brand-new BlackBerry Z10 when it makes its U.S. debut later this month.

VzW joins T-Mobile and AT&T as carriers of the first smartphone based on BlackBerry’s new BB10 operating system, which the company hopes will help it return to prominence, or at the least, compete for third place in market share behind Samsung and Apple. Dow Jones Newswires reports that Verizon will start selling the device on March 28, with pre-orders beginning on Thursday. Look for the Z10 to set you back $200 if you sign a two-year contract.

Multiple sources have said that AT&T will make the Z10 available in its stores on March 22, with pre-orders already underway. T-Mobile is already taking orders from business customers, with delivery scheduled for the end of this week or early next. General customers can pick one up in a T-Mobile store later this month.

The Z10 has been available in Canada and parts of Europe for about a month. It’s a touchscreen device with a 4.2-inch display and a dual-core, 1.5 GHz processor. Also coming from BlackBerry is the Q10, which includes a physical keyboard. No release date yet for that device, which Sprint has promised to carry, choosing not to offer the Z10.

The company’s stock rose 8 percent Wednesday on the carrier news, to $15.65.

Meantime, those rumors linking to BlackBerry to Lenovo won’t go away probably because the China-based company’s execs keeping talking about it a possible merger, something that had BlackBerry CEO Thorstein Heins scratching his head earlier this year.

Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing told a French newspaper that purchasing BlackBerry “could possibly make sense,” then adding that there was a need “to analyze the market and understand what exactly the importance of the company is.” One can’t help but wonder if there was something lost in translation. It wasn’t long ago that the PC giant’s chief financial officer made similar comments about going after BlackBerry.

When the possibility of an acquisition was first mentioned back in January, both parties knew that there wasnt much point getting into discussions before seeing how BlackBerry 10 would be received by the public. After BB10 got generally positive reviews, Lenovo is apparently now again renewing its interest in buying the Canadian company,” noted Yankee Group senior analyst Boris Metodiev, commenting specifically on a Bloomberg article about the Lenovo CEO’s chatter. Lenovo has been very aggressive on the mobile market, establishing itself as one of the biggest selling phone manufacturers in China. Focusing initially on the low-end market, Lenovo devices have been selling well in Asia and Africa, but the manufacturer has almost no presence in the Western countries. Acquiring BlackBerry would give the vendor a global outreach and much needed exposure in North America and Western Europe.”

But concerns about espionage, Metodiev said, will likely keep this from ever coming to fruition.

” … I dont see how the U.S. and Canadian governments are going to allow such acquisition to go ahead,” the analyst said. “The U.S government already expressed concerns regarding national security threat from using the equipment of Chinese companies. BlackBerry is still the preferred device in government organizations across North America and Western Europe and I expect they would want to keep it that way, which automatically discards the involvement of Lenovo, or any other Chinese OEM for that matter.”

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