Canadian Tire to buy thousands of new BlackBerrys

BlackBerry has scored another corporate win for its new Z10 and Q10 smart phones.

Canadian Tire Corp. said Friday that the Z10 will be the handset used by management for all of its divisions, which not only includes the flagship company but also Mark’s clothing stores, and its FGL Sports chains (Sport Check, Sports Experts National Sports and Atmosphere.

CTO Eugene Roman said some 3,000 of the new handsets, which use the BlackBerry 10 operating system, will be bought.

The purchase will be separate from Canadian Tire’s plans to equip store staff with Android tablets.
Canadian Tire executives have been supplied BlackBerry devices on the older BlackBerry operating system for several years, Roman said, and a few staff have been allowed to use Apple iPhones. However, Android smart phones are banned.
One reason the company is continuing to back BlackBerry is the ability of the platform to let users separate corporate data from personal data, he said.
In deciding on a new platform Roman is going against the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement. “I have issues with BYOD from a security perspective,” he said. “There’s a lot left to be proven.” A recent BYOD trial has been shut because “it didn’t show anything interesting.”

Candian Tire [TSX: CTC] has had an association with BlackBerry for some time. It released a mobile app for the BlackBerry platform three years ago allowing customers to browse for products. Last month the company opened a digital development lab in Waterloo, Ont.’s, Communitech facility, close to BlackBerry’s headquarters. BlackBerry is part of the Communitech lab The lab will help in the creation of Canadian Tire “smart stores,”  Roman said, which are Wi-Fi enabled stores that allow sales staff and consumers to access Canadian Tire’s digitial catalogue. All stores have now been wired with high density access points, Roman said.
Floor and warehouse staff will shortly be issued 7-and 10-in. Android tablets. Warehouse tables will be ruggedized for use in that environment.
The Z10/Q10 win  is a boost to BlackBerry, which is trying to turn the company around after losing sales and profits to Apple’s iPhones and a raft of Android smart phones.
The touch screen Z10 was launched at the begining in February and only just started to be distributed last month in the U.S.  The Q10, with a physical keyboard demanded by many loyal BlackBerry users, is expected to be released shortly.
Acceptence of the new handsets are crucial to BlackBerry’s survival because buyers are demanding smart phones with larger screens than the company’s legacy units. But the launch has been bumpy. Rather than roll out the Z10 in the U.S. early, Canada and Britain got it first, followed by the U.S. a month later. That apparently disappointed some investors.
Earlier this month a U.S. investment house issued a report claiming Z10 returns from unsatisifed customers was higher than expected, an allegation that BlackBerry has vigourously denied.
BlackBerry (still officially called Research In Motion until it legally changes its name) won’t release its next financial results until June 28, when details of Z10 sales will be clearer. However, some industry analysts say people should wait until the fall to see a fuller picture on the new platform’s future.

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