T-Mobile removes BlackBerry stock from its stores

BlackBerry Q10 review back

In another setback for troubled mobile company BlackBerry, T-Mobile has announced it will no longer stock the company’s handsets in its stores.

David Carey, the wireless carrier’s executive vice president for corporate services, told Reuters that “keeping stock in the retail distribution system was inefficient” because phones at its stores were failing to sell in any significant quantity. The executive added that this was in part due to BlackBerry selling primarily to businesses – such customers rarely visit stores to make purchases.

While customers will no longer be able to pick up a BlackBerry device at one of T-Mobile’s brick-and-mortar stores, it’ll still be possible to order one through the carrier and have it shipped. Also, T-Mobile will continue to display BlackBerry devices in store “for those consumers who would like to see one,” Carey said. Other major carriers in the US are continuing to stock the phone.

Tricky times

The news may not come as such a big surprise to those following the trials and tribulations of a company that once led the mobile market.

BlackBerry announced recently that due to poor sales of its new BB10 devices and other handsets, it expects to report losses of around a billion dollars for the quarter ending June 30. On top of that, the company will cut 4,500 jobs globally – 40 percent of workforce – as it seeks to trim the fat to make itself more attractive to potential buyers.

A consortium led by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial recently offered $4.7 billion for the company, although the deal, which would take the company private, is not yet signed and sealed, with a diligence period in effect until November 4.

Speaking about BlackBerry’s future, Fairfax chairman and CEO Prem Watsa told Reuters, “It has landed on hard times but we think it will flourish over time in a private setting, as a private company where there is no speculation as to what happens every quarter or every six months and the management team can focus on building it over the long term.”

Any deal will likely see BlackBerry move away from the consumer market and focus its efforts on bolstering its mobile device management and IT services business. Morningstar analyst Brian Colello suggested recently the company could become “a niche supplier of highly-secured phones to enterprise customers and governments.”

But with BlackBerry’s business customer base shrinking drastically in recent years, the company will have to work mighty hard to retain current users and win back old ones. According to research firm IDC, in 2010 the beleaguered mobile maker enjoyed a 70 percent market share among business customers in North America. Today that stands at just 5 percent. Globally, the picture is similarly grim, with the company’s business market share falling from 31 percent to 8 percent over the last three years.

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