BlackBerry (BBRY) laid all its cards on the table last week as it unveiled its new BlackBerry 10 platform and the two next-generation smartphones that will carry it through the first half of the year. BlackBerry fans were blown away, but as we discussed in a feature last week, the real challenge for the struggling smartphone vendor will be wooing users away from leading smartphone platforms. Early reviews were not convinced that the BlackBerry Z10 would gain much ground in this regard, however a recent research note from CIBC suggests BlackBerry may already be off to a phenomenal start.
“RIM, renamed Blackberry, put on glitz, glamour and yes a little bling with CEO Heins doing a good job introducing BB10,” CIBC analyst Todd Coupland wrote in a note to clients last week. “The bling of course is Alicia Keys, named Blackberry Creative Director, who plans to be in the office at least for a while. Heins was met with ~1,000 reporters, bloggers, investors, analysts and Blackberry staff. It was a ‘slick’ show which is table steaks [sic] in the maturing and more competitive smart phone market.”
Coupland listed a number of positive points for BlackBerry in his note. Among them were the fact that 150 carriers plan to launch BlackBerry 10 phones, and the impressive early app count in BlackBerry World (100,000 apps expected by the time the Z10 launches in the U.S. according to the analyst). But the biggest news in Coupland’s note was data on early BlackBerry 10 interest at Canadian carriers.
“In Canada 50% of preregistration at the carriers are not currently Blackberry users,” the analyst wrote. “This was a surprise and a datapoint that will be watched closely in other regions.”
A surprise, indeed. If Coupland’s checks are accurate and half of early interest in BlackBerry 10 came from non-BlackBerry users, this means a fair amount of early Z10 sales will be made to iPhone users, Android users and feature phone owners — three crucial groups that BlackBerry must sway if it hopes to find success in the modern smartphone market.
Additionally, we already know that early demand for the BlackBerry Z10 was “definitely strong” at Canada’s largest carrier thanks to an exclusive report from BGR last month, which means we’re likely dealing with some fairly significant numbers.
Coupland reiterated his Sector Outperform rating on BlackBerry shares with a $13.78 price target.