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RIM’s new BlackBerry phones faring well with enterprise, consumer adoption slow

Zach Epstein
September 8th, 2011 at 8:01 AM

Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry 7 smartphones are seeing strong initial sales among businesses looking to upgrade from older BlackBerry smartphones, however consumer sales have been weak according to Canaccord Genuity. In a research note, Canaccord analysts Mike Walkley and Matt Ramsay found during channel checks that upgrade sales of BlackBerry 7 devices in North America were quite strong with enterprise customers in August. Specifically, Verizon Wireless saw strong Bold 9930 upgrade sales among its substantial enterprise customer base, while AT&T and Sprint saw mixed sales. T-Mobile’s $300 Bold 9900 has not been selling well according to Canaccord’s checks. Read on for more.

“Our August checks indicated strong initial Bold 9930 sales to the large installed Verizon enterprise base, but most store managers indicated limited sales to consumer customers that continue to choose the iPhone or Android smartphones versus BlackBerry,” the analysts wrote. “With the Bold 9900 the first compelling new BlackBerry in nearly two years for Verizon customers, we were encouraged as our checks indicated Verizon’s large BlackBerry enterprise base appears to have strong demand for the first BlackBerry OS 7 device on Verizon’s network. However, our more consumer-centric retail store checks indicated smartphone consumers continue to overwhelmingly choose the iPhone 4 or new Android smartphones versus the $250 Bold 9900.”

Walkley and Ramsay continue, noting that initial sales of AT&T’s $50 Torch 9810 have been strong among consumers, though margins are likely tight considering the original Torch 9800’s $200 price tag. Canaccord believes RIM was forced to match the price of AT&T’s iPhone 3GS and HTC Status in order to attract consumers to the new Torch. Enterprise interest in the device has been lacking according to the firm’s checks, possibly due to businesses waiting for AT&T to launch the new Bold.

“Our checks at T-Mobile indicated weak initial sales for the Bold 9900, as Android smartphones maintain their top share at this carrier,” the note continues. “We believe the $300 price for this new BB 0S 7 device also contributed to the soft initial sales, and we anticipate T-Mobile will need to lower the price to match its competitors. Finally, our checks at Sprint indicated limited initial supply of Bold 9930 ($200) and the Torch 9850 ($150). While many stores sold out of initial quantities, most stores indicated very limited units at launch (<10 on average per store). As such, Sprint store managers indicated Android smartphones continue to sell much better than BlackBerry.” BGR has independently confirmed with multiple sources that Sprint retailers have received extremely limited inventory of RIM’s new BlackBerry 7 smartphones thus far.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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