BlackBerry 10 dismal shipment figures: It's the keyboard

BlackBerry 10 dismal shipment figures: It's the keyboard

Summary: BlackBerry reported that it shipped significantly more older devices than new ones with BlackBerry 10. That's not surprising given enthusiasts' love for the keyboard.

Q10 keyboard
Image credit: RIM

The first term you think of when you think of BlackBerry is beleaguered. The maker of the BlackBerry has fallen as far as a company can and still be in business. Once the darling of the enterprise and then the consumer space, the BlackBerry hasn't been able to keep pace with its competition.

The introduction of BlackBerry 10 (BB10), the modernized version of the OS on the latest phones by BlackBerry, was viewed as the last attempt by BlackBerry to remain viable in the market. BlackBerry pulled out all the stops to make BB10 a sleek touch OS to compete with the iPhone and Android phones.

See also: BlackBerry Z10: Refreshing but not thirst quenching (review)

The latest numbers for BlackBerry shipments seem to indicate that BlackBerry customers, and in spite of appearances there are still millions of them, prefer phones running on the older OS. As Matt Miller points out, BlackBerry shipped 4.08 million BlackBerrys running the older OS and only 2.72 million phones running the new BB10. On the surface that would imply that the new OS is not as popular as the older version, but I don't think that's the case.

Those shipment numbers cover the latest quarter of BlackBerry's reporting, and the fact is the Z10 handset was the only one shipping with BB10 for the entire quarter. The newest BB10 phone, the Q10, has only recently shipped in the global market, and only very recently in the US. That's significant as the Z10, which should make up most of those shipping figures, is the new BlackBerry without a physical keyboard.

No matter how desperately BlackBerry wants to break into the touch phone market, the single attribute of the BlackBerry that has always attracted customers is the physical QWERTY keyboard. The BlackBerry is famous for the keyboard, and there's no reason to expect this to change with BB10. Most if not all of those older BlackBerrys that shipped in the latelst quarter likely had physical keyboards.

There may be other factors contributing to the fact that older BlackBerrys are still outshipping the new Z10 almost two-to-one but I think it's primarily the keyboard that is attracting buyers. They want the keyboard and they are not letting the bling of the new OS and the new handset affect their decision. Keyboard or nothing is what these numbers indicate to me.

That means the newest BlackBerry with the physical keyboard is the most important handset of BlackBerry's history. The Q10 has it all, the new BB10 system, a touch screen, and the physical QWERTY keyboard. This is the phone that can get BlackBerry enthusiasts to upgrade to the new OS.

Whether the Q10 can compete with the competition remains to be seen. It better be able to compete with old BlackBerrys or it could be the company's last hurrah.

Related BlackBerry 10 news

Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Smartphones

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  • Q10 or Bust?

    It's time for BlackBerry to lead with their strength. As this article explains the Q10 is their true differentiator. A massive marketing campaign is the final straw to convince the loyalists and analysts alike that BlackBerry is still in the game.
    • The Q10 isnt selling well either. Not just in absolute numbers but where

      it has been for sale the market is still avoiding it in droves. There's a reason BB put out a horrible next qtr forecast along with its well below expectation past qtr results and a reason its stock cratered by 25% in a single day. The huge majority of the consumer market DOES NOT WANT a physical keyboard so even if BB gets 100% of those that do they still EPIC FAIL. What kind of market strategy it that?
      Johnny Vegas
      • The Q10 IS selling well...

        just it started doing so in June. It'll account for Q2 results.
        • See you agin in 3 months.

          See you in Part 2 of this thread in 3 months time, when BB's stock will crater another 25%.

          They need to urgently exit HW, and deliver BES/BES Client as a $5/month subscription App, and live off this and the BES back-end. Perhaps a free BES Lite Client App for Kindle, and your kids Nintendo/PS3/XB360 to get them into the market - as they are leving in droves for iMessage and Facetime on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
      • dont speak to soon

        Please stop talking about things you do not know.
        Consumers have been crying for a physical keyboard.
        Apple and Google have done a swell job of marketing and instilling the mindset that physical keyboards are 'bad'. It is a shame.
        I personally moved from android over to bb, just for the sake of having a physical keyboard and a phone first, consumption device second.
        Skylar Bartoni
  • Older touchscreen only BBs were awful and people don't forget easily

    BB need to do much more to market the Z10 has different.
    • BB users love the keyboard

      you're clearly not a BB user.
      • But the number of blackberry users continues to decline

        Blackberry is losing millions of users every quarter to the competition.

        I don't think those users are leaving to iOS/Android, because they have a better physical keyboard.

        I'm not sure what BB can do to hold onto their users and attract new ones.
  • Wall Street can't force BBRY to give up with its strong cash position

    "The maker of the BlackBerry has fallen as far as a company can and still be in business."

    Wouldn't that mean being deeply in debt rather than having $3.1 billion in reserve?

    BBRY users are unlike AAPL users in that they do not rush out for the latest device. Therefore, the recovery of BBRY could come in steady increases in handset sales versus a big spike. It could just take time.

    Their new devices received very positive reviews and they built an excellent OS. Why make rash decisions to scrap your entire business? Maybe they need to invest in app development or spend more in marketing. Giving up on their business now does not seem to be a good use of shareholder dollars.
    • True

      Blackberry underestimated the speed at which the transition would take place. Hence the new OS7 device in the works.
    • Sales forecast was Exactly as BB foretold

      Wall Streets estimates where those off target.
  • BIS is selling the Emerging Markets with OS7

    BlackBerry is selling phones in developing markets. Here people want easy and cheap text messaging with BBM on BIS. Until the new OS10 phones have a chance to sell in the developed cell phone markets, BBRY needs OS 7 and BIS to generate revenue and compete with the Asha from Nokia and other cheap phones.
    • Emerging Markets.....

      Emerging Markets are Nokia Asha and low end Android's home turf....
  • Not smelling the coffee

    BlackBerry made a bold move with the Z10. It tried to compete directly with iOS and Android. Judging by these figures it failed. The million dollar question is if they'll accept that they've become a niche product, smartphones with keyboards, and stop wasting resources on full touchscreen smartphones.
  • its not the keyboard(ok it is to some extent) its the price.

    Apart from US, canada and most of the europe, rest of the world does not have carrier subsidy.
    In india a Z10 and Q10 is priced at 42,000 rupees. While you can get a galaxy s4, HTC One for 37,000.

    BB10 devices are far too expensive for the specifications they offer. The specs of Z10 are slightly bettr than HTC One S. One S sells for around 22,000 here.

    BB10 has lack of apps and device is ridiculously costly. Even the non subsidised nexus devices available here are much cheaper.
    For example Nexus 4 sells for around 26,000 or around $480-500. (Given the latest jump in US$ in compare to indian rupee) and nexus 7 sells for $300 for wifi 16 GB model. But the thing is. I can still get both N7 and N4 for price of One BB10 device. And that's absurd.
  • If only my GS3 had a BB keyboard

    Love the touch experience until it comes to typing text - then it becomes a tedious, error-prone fail. The Blackberry physical keyboard is so much easier to use and is far superior to a touch keyboard. If I could get a hybrid device with the ability to tap an icon, scroll / zoom via touch, but type on a physical keyboard, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
  • Keyboard - You mucgt be joking

    You must be joking, the physical keyboard on a Blackberry is the most hateful thing I have ever used on any mobile device

    it is too small for adult fingers, it horribly prone to mis-typing, and it uber-annnoying with a restricive security policy requiring numeric and alpha for the device password.

    HTC figure this out years ago, with their slider phones, where the keyboard is landscape, and (just) big enough to use comfortably and accurately.
    • The word is muSt not mucgt

      I loved the KB as it was much less prone to me hitting the wrong keys. Yes I am a overweight IT adult with fat thumbs. The security policy is fantastic requiring alpha and numeric. Yes I am a enterprise user with that being a requirement for accessing our WiFi and the email system. So switching to iOS or Android would do you no good as the system checks your security before it lets you in. As for the HTC, it wasn't the KB that failed them, but the slider. (same with LG)
      Daniel Bissell
  • It's the Keyboar - and the apps

    I have a Bold 9900. I got the Z10. Missed the keyboard but the apps that I have on by Bold, are not "yet" available for the Z10.

    The Q10 looks nice, but the screen is not really larger that the Bold.

    They should have come out with a Torch type phone - big screen and a keyboard as well.

    Oh and the Blackberry bridge has now lost its functionality.

    My S4 will be delivered this week. No keyboard, but I will have the apps again.
  • BlackBerry Enterprise Server

    I don't think this has anything to do with the keyboard. The biggest buyers of BlackBerries are still corporate IT departments and they're buying older models because those still work with their corporate infrastructure. In order to move to BB10 they have to upgrade their entire back-end, and if they're going to do that then they might as well move to iPhones to keep their users happy. The only thing keeping these companies in the BlackBerry fold is their unwillingness to move away from BES, and now they can't even get new BlackBerry devices without jumping that hurdle so they're sticking to older devices to delay the transition.