Electronics retailers in the UAE have reported mixed sales for the highly anticipated BlackBerry Z10 smartphone, but said sales are expected to rise when the Q10 model is released.
BlackBerry launched its latest smartphone in the Gulf state at the end of January but was forced to delay its release in the US until this last weekend, where retailers reported flat sales.
Regional electronics outlets said demand for the device was strong in the weeks following its release, but has since waned.
“The launch was as per expectations and for the first two weeks demand was as we expected it to be. Sales were fantastic and there was a lot of hype so we did well but after those two weeks it went flat very rapidly,” said Nadeem Khanzadah, head of retail business for Jumbo Electronics.
“Usually after a couple of weeks you would expect demand to slow down a little but in this case it happened very quickly,” he added.
The well-reviewed device, whose success is essential if BlackBerry is to reestablish itself as a power in the smartphone industry, hit US store shelves on Friday but reports of a flat response saw BlackBerry shares decline nearly 8 percent.
“Demand has been fairly steady here because BlackBerry has a much stronger footing as a brand than in the US and I think that’s shown in the sales over here,” said Ashish Panjabi, COO of Jacky’s Electronics.
Demand for the device in the UAE is expected to pick up when BlackBerry releases the Q10 model, which has a traditional physical keyboard that is likely to appeal to heavy email users. “A lot of people are waiting for the key device,” said Panjabi, adding that he expected it to go on sale in April or May.
“The core customer of BlackBerry is the enterprise user and they usually use the physical keyboard for heavy email and typing so the Z10 doesn’t really address their needs. When the Q10 launches we’ll see the real BlackBerry customers come into the market,” said Khanzadah.
BlackBerry, a one-time smartphone pioneer, has failed to keep pace with rival devices powered by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.
The smartphone maker, which is already selling the new touch-screen smartphone in about 25 countries, has yet to release any hard numbers on the initial sales of the Z10 in major markets but is expected to when it releases its quarterly results on March 28.