T-Mobile has announced plans to offer only one of BlackBerry’s two recently introduced BlackBerry 10 smartphones, the Z10, but it wants to be the first U.S. carrier to do so.
“The device is more stable than we anticipated,” Frank Sickinger, head of business sales at T-Mobile USA told Bloomberg, according to a Feb. 7 report. “If we are able to speed up the launch date, we will do that. Right now, it’s looking like mid-March.”
Sickinger said T-Mobile wants to be first “out of the gate.”
Mid-March is when most U.S. carriers would begin offering the Z10, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said when he introduced the device, its new BlackBerry 10 platform and a BlackBerry Q10 sister device Jan. 30 at a New York City event.
If a speeding-along T-Mobile hopes to hit a mid-March launch date, the Z10 may arrive later than expected at the other carriers.
Already the release date for the Q10, which Heins said Jan. 30 would arrive around “mid-April,” has since been pushed out. Heins told the Associated Press that the QWERTY-equipped Q10 would ship “8 to 10 weeks” behind the Z10, according to a Feb. 5 report, which would put it into a mid-May or early June time frame.
While the Z10 became available in the U.K. Jan. 31, U.S. carriers have a “rather lengthy” testing process, Heins has said, explaining why the devices will be so much later to arrive in the United States. The Z10 went on sale in Canada and elsewhere Feb. 5, making that day “the best day ever for the first day of a launch of a new BlackBerry smartphone,” BlackBerry said in a Feb. 6 statement.
T-Mobile, with new CEO John Legere at the helm, has promised to be the “un-carrier,” stirring up the industry with contract-free offers and unsubsidized devices paired with financing plans—even when offering the Apple iPhone.
Such offers should help to attract some consumers, or keep current subscribers faithful, but T-Mobile also needs to work on building its business user base, which has always paled beside those of its larger rivals.
“From T-Mobile’s perspective, I think that having the Z10 is a nice addition to their device portfolio,” Ken Hyers, an analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK. “It allows them to give customers whatever device they want, and therefore plugs a gap in the portfolio.”
Heins added that offering the Z10 ahead of AT&T or Verizon Wireless, which have each acknowledged the device is on the way (Sprint will instead later sell only the Q10), will help T-Mobile reach customers who are looking for a new smartphone experience and like the idea of being first to get their hands on a new device.
“It will bring some customers to T-Mobile, but probably not a lot,” said Hyers. “I don’t see it really moving the needle that much for T-Mobile in terms of growing their subscriber base since the majority of their customers are on different platforms and will see little reason to switch.”