Companies & Industries

How many Z10s can BlackBerry sell in Canada?

One survey says BB can do 2.6 million.


According to a recent survey reported in the Globe and Mail, that number is about 2.6 million over the next year. If that number sounds a bit high to you, we’ve done some cursory investigation to see what investment and industry analysts are thinking.

Troy Crandall, an analyst with MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier,  says the figure is overly optimistic. “To get to their number of 2.6 million they’d have to increase their market share significantly.”

BlackBerry currently has a 4.5% share of the smartphone market in Canada, according to IDC.

In a research note, Tim Long, analyst with BMO Capital Markets, asks if the improvements in the Z10 will help sell phones. He answers his own question with “We don’t think so.”

By contrast, Paul Treiber, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, says the estimate is “in the ballpark.” He notes that BlackBerry has sold 2-3 million phones every year over the last several years. “BB10 is off to a strong start in Canada—the sustainability of sell-through depends on corporate upgrades, interest beyond early adopters, and how quickly RIM launches additional models (Q10, etc.). “

Kris Thompson, tech analyst with National Bank Financial, says 2.6 million would be a “stretch” even with combined sales of the Z10 and Q10.

There remains a loyal core of BlackBerry users and the company is counting on them upgrading. Ian Ainsworth, SVP Investments at Mackenzie Financial, says that’s why he thinks 2.6 million is “possible.” But he adds a caveat: “How many of the sales will be to people switching from other brands? Otherwise, the BlackBerry refresh will fizzle. Early sales in the U.K. and Canada have been not that convincing.”

Ainsworth is referencing a research note from Pacific Crest Securities that looks at U.K. data, which has historically been a good indicator of performance in Canada. In the note, analyst James Faucette concludes that while the launch has been better than previous high-profile launches in the last several years, early data suggest global sales for the year will be around 6 million at the high end.

How Canada might snag almost half of that is difficult to imagine.

Krista Napier, analyst at IDC Canada, declined to speculate on BlackBerry sales, but says she doesn’t expect the new phone to help the company win back market share lost to Android and Apple.

Nevertheless, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins recently made a statement that the February 5 launch saw the Z10 do 50% better than any launch day in the company’s history in Canada. It’s perhaps worth noting that he offered no specific numbers, and in the tech world that’s not usually a good sign.