Following the breathless, if tepidly received launch of BB10 and the new BlackBerry line last month, many questions rightly centered on what US carriers were planning to do in terms of BlackBerry 10 launches. While all 4 carriers committed to a launch of the platform later this year, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon confirmed variants of the Z10 for launch, while Sprint was decidedly more quiet about its launch plans and only confirming plans for the more conventional BlackBerry 10 model in the Q10, with a late Spring launch in the works.
The official word has now gone out courtesy of Sprint spokesperson Mark Eliot in comments made to Bloomberg Businessweek that the carrier will not be launching the Z10 next to the Q10, citing the following reasoning:
“We aren’t saying there’s anything different about our customers. We think our customers will be happy with the qwerty keyboard and touch screen on the Q10”
With Sprint not launching the Z10, it may put them at a disadvantage to its rivals in the short-term, as the Z10 is BlackBerry’s flagship device compared to the more conventional Q10, which recalls the previous generation of BlackBerry devices and adds a touch display in order to maintain continuity with BB10.
While Sprint has so far refused to comment on when it will launch the Z10, evidence also suggests that it may be holding off on launching expensive flagships in the run up to the expected completion of its majority stake purchase by Japanese carrier SoftBank later this Spring before spending more money on development of new flagship models from multiple manufacturers for the year.
As far as other carriers are concerned with the Q10, Verizon is the only other carrier that has committed to the Q10, but it has only stated that it will launch its variant in late Summer, with no further specifics on pricing. It should also be noted that all 4 major carriers also have yet to announce pricing for their variants of the Z10 and Q10 as well, making the launch situation more of a guessing game for now, thanks to the delays in launching BB10 and the Z10/Q10 in the US due to carrier testing of the new platform and hardware.
T-Mobile is expected to be the first carrier to launch BB10 in the US sometime this month, as its carrier testing has shown the new platform and hardware to be more stable than expected, though it’s unclear whether its Z10 will launch with the latest software update recently rolling out to owners in Europe and Canada, which provides a slate of major fixes based on both customer and pre-launch critical feedback from the press.