It Gets Worse, BlackBerry Investors


At least one BlackBerry worrywart is growing even more concerned.

The analysts at Detwiler Fenton are reporting that a wave of returns for BlackBerry's Z10 smartphone is now exceeding actual sales at several key retailers.

Negative net sales is a phenomenon that Detwiler Fenton argues it has never seen before so soon after a major product launch.

To be fair, Detwiler Fenton has been seeing BlackBerry through blood-colored glasses for some time. It even finds a way to rain on BlackBerry's parade when the news appears to be positive. When BlackBerry announced last month that a single customer order a million BlackBerry 10 devices -- its biggest order in company history -- Detwiler Fenton found a way to spin that as a negative.

After a little digging around, the analysts at Detwiler Fenton suggest that it was international distributor Brightstar placing the beefy order. Verizon is a company that relies on Brightstar when it doesn't want to take on the risk behind an unproven product.

"Verizon doesn't believe this well be a strong seller since it normally tries to allocate hot product on its own," Detwiler Fenton analysts concluded last month.

Even bulls didn't see the Z10 as a game changer out of the gate. The market knew that BlackBerry was going to have a hard time with the Z10, the first handset fueled by the company's improved BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system. The BlackBerry brand has diminished in popularity as Google's Android and Apple's iOS account for the lion's share of the phones out there.

However, it's hard to believe that early adopters -- likely the most devoted of BlackBerry loyalists -- are turning on the device so quickly.

The complaints from those reportedly returning their Z10s range include a lack of app developer support, poor mapping, and an unintuitive interface.

Developer support was a well-known problem going in. Google and Apple didn't attract hundreds of thousands of app developers until they achieved the critical mass that justified the effort to code for the Android and iOS platform. Microsoft has had to sweeten the pot for important app makers to port their applications for Windows Phone. Many important developers will rightfully wait on the sidelines until they see if BB10 is the real deal. Buyers should've known that.

Then we get to the interface knocks that fly in the face of the first wave of critical reviews that gushed about some of the new mobile platform's bar-raising features.

There certainly appears to be some truth to the bumpy launch for BlackBerry's make-or-break device, but investors will want to be careful about believing the extremely positive or negative accounts until we get real numbers.

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