An unnamed partner of Canada's BlackBerry has placed an order for 1 mln BlackBerry 10 smartphones, the company announced, following takeover rumours earlier in the week and that AT&T would also start selling the touchscreen devices from next week.
This is the "largest ever single purchase order" in the company's history, BlackBerry (formerly RIM) annouced.
The company revealed the first BlackBerry 10 smartphones — Z10 and Q10 — on January 30. With the new version of the platform and these devices, it hopes to regain some of the market share it's been steadily losing since 2009.
This large order, as well as a recent report of the German government adopting the BlackBerry Z10, is seen by analysts as a good sign for BlackBerry, that hasn't been able to keep up with the race between Aple’s iPhones and the Androids in recent years.
BlackBerry will be reporting its Q4 and year-end results on March 28. Its shares rose 14% on Monday, fuelled by takeover speculation and news that AT&T will start selling the new Z10 smartphone.
The speculation was sparked by a comment from the head of China's Lenovo Group, who told a French newspaper that the personal computer maker might consider an acquisition of Canada's BlackBerry at some point in the future.
BlackBerry, a one-time smartphone pioneer, has bled market share to Apple and Samsung's Galaxy line and other devices powered by Google's market-leading Android operating system.
In a make-or-break move to regain market share and return to profit, BlackBerry introduced the new smartphone to much fanfare in January, and said it was abandoning its old name, Research In Motion, and renaming itself BlackBerry.
Analysts are also skeptical that the Canadian government, which in 2010 blocked mining giant BHP Billiton's $39 bln bid for Potash Corp, will easily approve a Chinese acquisition of BlackBerry.
BlackBerry is hoping the new devices, already on sale in Canada, Britain and more than 20 other countries, will help it win back market share in the United States, which was once a stronghold for the smartphone industry pioneer.
AT&T said it would sell the devices for $199.99 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile USA said it planned to start selling the BlackBerry Z10 to its business customers in the U.S. on Monday.
Verizon Inc, the biggest U.S. wireless carrier, has yet to say when it will start selling the Z10. The Z10 and the soon-to-be-launched Q10, which will come with BlackBerry's traditional physical keyboard, are powered by the new BlackBerry 10, or BB10 operating system.
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