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BlackBerry's Passport Smartphone Quickly Hit 200K Preorders

BlackBerry's square-faced phone sold out within hours of its announcement.

BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry's new square-faced, enterprise-targeted Passport smartphone hit 200,000 preorders within two days of their debut online on Sept. 24, selling out the devices for now and giving the company some pleasant news after what has been several years of disappointments.

The 200,000 preorders were announced by John Chen, BlackBerry's CEO, during a first-quarter 2015 earnings call with analysts on Sept. 26 and have been confirmed by BlackBerry.

A BlackBerry spokeswoman, however, would not reveal any additional details about the preorder figures to eWEEK, including whether the 200,000 preordered Passports meant that the initial supplies of the devices were exhausted and that future buyers will have to wait longer to get them. The spokeswoman would also not comment about when additional supplies of Passport smartphones will be available to buyers.

The Passport phones sold out within six hours after their announcement on BlackBerry's own Website and within 10 hours on, Chen told reporters, according to a story by Venturebeat. Other preorders were taken through other suppliers as well.

The successful preorder news for the Passport phones is a positive sign for BlackBerry, which also announced on Sept. 26 that its revenue dropped to $916 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2015, down from $966 million in the first quarter, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The company also posted a GAAP net loss of $207 million for the second quarter, which ended Aug. 30, compared with a $965 million loss in the same quarter of 2013, according to a financial statement released by BlackBerry on Sept. 26. Those figures compare to a modest net profit of $23 million earned in the first fiscal quarter of 2015, which ended May 31.

The BlackBerry of a year ago was an entirely different company, a larger, less laser-focused enterprise run by a different executive team, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Chen has trimmed his staff, sold off real estate and arranged partnerships—such as the deal announced June 18 with Amazon—to prevent his team's energies from being spread out or diluted.

The new BlackBerry Passport smartphones for enterprise users sell for $599 and include a full HD display that is 4.5 inches square, which will allow 60 characters to be typed across its screen, compared with about 40 for a typical smartphone, according to BlackBerry.

BlackBerry's fall from dominating the enterprise smartphone market has been swift and stunning. BlackBerry spent much of 2012 and 2013 trying to shake off the image that it was finished, especially compared to its presence five years earlier when its devices were the "enterprise gold standard" for mobile business communications. In early 2006, half of all smartphones sold were BlackBerry models. By 2009, though, its share of the global smartphone market was down to 20 percent.