In keeping with the “Keep Moving” marketing message attached to its new Z10 smartphone handset, BlackBerry is creating a presence in major U.S. airports—and hoping to make an impression on travelers.
BlackBerry has also struck a deal with Delta Airlines. BlackBerry users can now enjoy complimentary in-flight WiFi on all domestic sites.
“Simply launch your browser at 30,000 feet to enjoy,” BlackBerry says on its Keep Moving Tour page.
While BlackBerry is now courting enterprise customers and consumers alike, the deal seems designed to perhaps particularly please frequent-flying executives, although everybody likes free WiFi.
BlackBerry now has stores in airports in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Seattle and Washington D.C., where travelers can try out the Z10, as well as—and somewhat less explicably, it says on the site—”our 12-foot interactive wall.”
BlackBerry introduced the Z10, and a Q10 sister device, Jan. 30. The pair are the first to run BlackBerry 10, a new mobile platform that was years in the making and which the company is counting on—along with more consumer-appealing devices—to support it through the next decade and restore its disastrously low market share.
The Z10 went on sale in the United Kingdom Jan. 31 and Canada Feb. 5. But it didn’t begin selling in the United States until March 22, on the AT&T network—well after the close of the company’s fiscal 2013 third quarter.
On March 26, T-Mobile surprised the market by announcing the phone was available that day and two days later it arrived on the Verizon Wireless network.
BlackBerry CEO Thorston Heins had warned at the Z10’s introduction event that the testing practices of U.S. carriers would mean that the phones would be slow to arrive in the U.S. The Q10 is now expected to arrive sometime in April.
On March 28, Heins disclosed during an earnings call that the company had shipped approximately 1 million Z10 units during the quarter. More surprisingly, he announced that the company had posted a profit.
“To say it was a challenging environment to deliver improved results in could be the understatement of the year,” Heins said in his opening remarks, adding that there was still much work to do.
Ovum analyst Jan Dawson, in anticipation of BlackBerry’s results, had said that anything less than a million would be disappointing. He noted, however, that the Q10, which has the classic BlackBerry keyboard, “won’t go on sale for some time still, so many of the prime candidates for buying a BlackBerry 10 device will be waiting for that. [Also] devices have been supply-constrained in the markets where they have launched, meaning that even if people wanted to buy them, they haven’t necessarily been able to do so.”
BlackBerry sales have reportedly also been limited by the company’s application ecosystem. Its store launched with 70,000 apps, but this number was up to 100,000 by the time AT&T began selling the phone.
The smartphone maker has insisted that it offers the 1,000 most popular apps and is adding new ones every day.
The store also includes, as BlackBerry’s latest news may have suggested, a Fly Delta app, where users can check in, download boarding passes, change their seats and receive flight updates.