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Posted on April 29th, 2013 by Nicole Kobie

BlackBerry Q10: has it really sold out?

BlackBerry Q10

BlackBerry had a cheerful Monday morning, with its BlackBerry Q10 reportedly selling out in the UK and causing queues at Selfridges, which had the device exclusively for the launch weekend. The posh department store claimed the Q10 was the fastest selling consumer electronics device in its history, selling out within two hours; now, stock is being delivered hourly to “keep up with demand”, the breathless press release stated.

Tales of “selling out” are entirely meaningless unless you know how many were stocked in the first place  – which BlackBerry or Selfridges have yet to tell us.

So we decided to go undercover to find the truth. Disguised as a Selfridges shopper — I’m wearing silly shoes and I’m female — I went in, dodging the dangers of Oxford Street (tourists, chuggers, buses) to bring back this exclusive investigative report.

According to my sources (Selfridges’ signage), the technology department is buried on the lower ground floor, past the Cath Kidston concession, near the expensive stationary. Next to the escalators is a slick-looking pop-up stand promoting the Q10, with handsets to try out.

BlackBerry at Selfridges

While I surreptitiously took photos — pretending I was sending a text message at an awkward angle so as not to alert the security guards — a few shoppers fiddled with the demo handsets. However, the stand had no sales staff — at first glance, it appeared BlackBerry was making the same mistake as Microsoft with the Surface RT, and failing to supply a good retail experience; it wasn’t clear how to buy one of the devices, and there was nobody around  to answer questions.

BlackBerry at Selfridges

A local informant (the cashier) informed me the real BlackBerry experts were further down, in the “Carphone Warehouse bit”. There, the same pop-up stand was repeated, with Q10 and Z10 handsets galore, and staff to assist the dozen or so customers milling about.

Has the Q10 sold out? Using my disguise to pose as a young woman shopping for a gift for her (imaginary, but wealthy and attractive, with a good sense of humour) boyfriend, I subtly interrogated the sales staff. He’d only just come on shift, so had to check if any Q10 handsets were in stock; he returned to reveal the Carphone Warehouse in Selfridges had 1,000 in stock — but did expect them to sell quickly.

On Saturday, he informed me, the Q10 had sold out in under an hour — though he wasn’t sure how many units Selfridges had in the first place. However, 100 of the handsets had just this morning been bought by one man with a large suitcase — backing up The Guardian’s suggestion that resellers were coming in and buying the Q10 in bulk for overseas sales (the handset is so far only available in the UK).

The device was so popular, that to avoid disappointing my (imaginary) boyfriend, my contact advised me to buy immediately; his pushy sales tactics almost blew my cover (”um, I’ve got to, um, do some stuff, uh, first” — PC Pro sadly doesn’t have a budget for gifts for my made-up relationships), but I managed to escape with no worse than a few odd looks.

Our investigation can therefore reveal that the Q10 is indeed selling briskly, but remains readily available. However, Selfridges may be acting as little more than wholesalers to overseas resellers, pandering to those who can make a quick buck by selling the Q10 at a even greater premium in foreign markets.

At least BlackBerry appears to have learned from the mistakes of others (hello, Microsoft), and has trained staff to explain the merits of the Q10 — I got a fully detailed explanation of the BlackBerry 10, specifically the Hub message system, how the gestures work, and the new camera tools. With consumers increasingly looking for smartphone alternatives, that attention to retail detail may be worth much more in the end to BlackBerry’s ailing bottom line than headlines that the Q10 has sold out.

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8 Responses to “ BlackBerry Q10: has it really sold out? ”

  1. james Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Do you have a unit to review yet?

  2. james Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    bit of a nitpick but shouldn’t “looking for smartphone alternatives” be “looking for alternative smartphones”

  3. Darlo Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Was it near the stationary or the stationery (envelopes etc) department?

  4. Expert Computing Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Ha ha. A guy buying a 100 is nothing new. This used to happen when the iPhone was first released until they restricted it to 2 per person.

  5. 10,000 Angry Vegans Says:
    May 1st, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    As the comments in the Guardian article to which you linked explained rather better, your typical BlackBerry buyer has always purchased the devices in bulk because they used in bulk – entire departments, entire businesses; you report on this, you should know the sort of thing.

    Even if we assume the story about one buyer walking off with 100 units isn’t apocryphal (100 units must be a pallet which is significantly more than any one person could carry), the fact nobody questioned the guy about his intentions for them means this is all pointless speculation.

    Perhaps he’s a city trader buying them for his floor at Goldman? You just don’t know.

  6. Neil Postlethwaite Says:
    May 2nd, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I don’t know why anyone would want a Blackberry with their ‘infamous’ keyboard – it is hateful beyond belief, and apparently designed for 6 year old’s.

    HTC figured out almost 10 years back, if you need a wee button keyboard to be landscape so it is remotely usable.

  7. sat prep courses Says:
    May 16th, 2013 at 1:04 am

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  8. Rich Says:
    July 6th, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Neil Postlethwaite, the BB keyboard is one of their most popular features amongst business users – perhaps you meant “famous”.


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