Who bought all those BlackBerry phones?

One million phones were purchased by an undisclosed buyer. We try to figure out who it could be.

By Benzinga Mar 14, 2013 3:17PM
Woman Sitting in a Cafe Texting copyright Stephen Morris, Vetta, Getty ImagesBy Sam Mattera

Late Wednesday, shares of BlackBerry (BBRY) spiked higher into the close after an interesting press release declared that the company had sold one million BlackBerry 10 smartphones to an "established partner."

The release gave no indication who the partner was, or even what type of BlackBerry 10 devices they were (there are two, the Z10 and Q10).

Still, that many BlackBerry phones in one order limits the list of suspects significantly. BlackBerry remains a favorite among corporations, but few have a million employees, and those that do, generally aren't the type of companies to give their employees phones.

Wal-Mart (WMT) for example, employs about 2.1 million workers, while McDonald's (MCD) a cool 1.9 million. But neither of these companies is the kind to give the majority of their workers phones.

If it was a specific customer that purchased the devices, it seems more likely to be a government agency. The U.S. Department of Defense employs well over three million. The DoD has had a long history with BlackBerry, but due to its high security standards, the agency requires extensive testing before approving devices for use.

In fact, Reuters reports that the DoD didn't approve BlackBerry 7 devices until just last May -- well over six months after they went on sale. There haven't been any reports of DoD approving BlackBerry 10 devices, so unless that announcement is rapidly forthcoming, it seems unlikely that the DoD bought the phones.

It could have been a foreign buyer. Although BlackBerry's popularity has experienced a significant decline in the developed world, the company remains a top smartphone choice for many in the developing world. India, in particular, remains a large market for BlackBerry.

India has virtually no land lines, instead relying almost wholly on mobile phones. According to The Globe and Mail, the country has roughly 900 million mobile subscribers. 

BlackBerry's Z10 went on sale in India last month, several weeks before U.S. buyers will get a chance to purchase the phone.

Although it would make the press release misleading, the buyer might have been a U.S. mobile carrier. In particular, AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) would be possibilities. Sprint (S) has only committed to carrying the BlackBerry Q10, and won't get the device at all for at least another month.

AT&T is set to release BlackBerry's Z10 on March 22, while Verizon will follow on March 28. Could one of these carriers, seeing strong pre-order demand, have committed to purchasing a million of the devices?

At any rate, the release was potent enough to propel shares of BlackBerry Wednesday afternoon, but will it sustain the company over the longer-term? (Shares spiked at the open Thursday, but were down over 2.5% by the afternoon.) Rival Samsung is set to unveil its next flagship phone -- the Galaxy S4 -- at an event Thursday night. Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) is rumored to be prepping the iPhone 5S, a device that could include significant new technologies like a thumb scanner.

The smartphone market continues to be hyper-competitive and BlackBerry certainly has its hands full.  

More from Benzinga

Mar 14, 2013 4:39PM
Mar 14, 2013 4:10PM
Gotta upgrade those voterphones......... sorry Detroit.... no bacon for you baby.
Mar 14, 2013 3:50PM

Only ONE "established partner"...Could possibly do that on credit or otherwise...


"The United States Government".....See how easy that was...??


The other option was AT&T, which use to be as big as the Government...Not any more..

Even for Re-Sale, that's a "big order" and would only probably come in Partials on demand..?


Outright Purchase and an Order are two "different intents"...Period. 

Mar 14, 2013 5:41PM
So Blackberry phones must not be part of the sequester.
Mar 14, 2013 5:37PM
What about the insiders who bought shares of BBRY prior to the release of the new that a Company had ordered 1 million blackberry phones??
Mar 14, 2013 5:48PM
who freakin cares? I think MSN is the village idiot.
Mar 14, 2013 5:44PM
They are for all the people looking for work.  Wait, that might not be enough!
Mar 14, 2013 6:20PM
Later,  maybe we can find out who bought stock just before this theoretical order happened,  and who sold short just before the order was canceled.
Mar 14, 2013 5:05PM
They are going to the US Postal Service which is about to put smart phones on every mail carrier across the country so they be kept track of while on the mail routes. Can't stay open on Saturdays but they can put a $500 phone on each carrier to track it's employees movements.
Mar 14, 2013 5:36PM

author, ur a moron.  DoD / US Govt gave the Blackberry FIPS certification before these things went on the market (back in Nov) - first time that has ever happened to any product.


The DoD bought these phones, I am convinced.

Mar 14, 2013 6:30PM
Homeland Security, their on a buying binge right now even with their lying about being effected by Obama's Sequester request..Billions of rounds of ammo, millions of assault rifles, armored vehicles etc. etc.etc.
Mar 14, 2013 6:19PM

"Who bought 1,000,000 BlackBerries?"


Uh, someone who REALLY loves fruit?


(Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Mar 14, 2013 6:56PM

NEW Obama phones!!!!  we can't have welfare recipients using standard phones like everybody else!


Full service Blackberries!! Just a little thank you from Barry for voting Democrat last November!!!


Free GM cars for the deadbeats if they re elect King Barry for a 3rd. term in 2016!!!!!!!


Yeeee Hawwww!!!!

Mar 14, 2013 5:50PM
Could these be the Obamaphones the government is giving away?
Mar 14, 2013 4:49PM

A Crackle Berry in every pocket...


Courtesy of your Uncle.

Mar 14, 2013 6:42PM
looky welfare and lazy folks you are getting phones.
Mar 14, 2013 6:32PM
Well one things for sure. Android is a bit lousy at security. Apple's iPhone is only a bit better and who wants a Windows phone. So for some who really want security as a priority. Blackberry still rules.
Mar 14, 2013 5:56PM
It's an ObamaPhone, sugar!  Mine's got a picture of Barack, Michelle and the kids on the back....and the ringtone is Obama singing Al Green....lol 
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