LAS VEGAS–Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA each confirmed they will support Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry 10 platform this year, giving RIM a shot in the arm three weeks ahead of its Jan. 30 BB10 unveiling.
“We’re hopeful it’s going to be a good device,” Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam told Reuters here at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. “We’ll carry it.”
T-Mobile CEO John Legere was even more effusive. “We’re extremely optimistic that it’s going to be a successful product and our business customers are extremely interested in it,” he said.
AT&T executives also committed to launching BB10 devices. “It’s logical to expect our current (BlackBerry) customers will have the best BlackBerry devices to choose from in the future,” Jeff Bradley, AT&T’s senior vice president of devices, told Reuters.
Sprint earlier this week confirmed that it will launch LTE smartphones running Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 8 by the summer. Sprint is also going to support BB10, though the company did not say when it would do so. Trevor Van Norman, Sprint’s director of device product marketing, told FierceWireless Sprint will support BB10. “We still think that’s a viable OS,” he said.
Van Norman explained that Sprint still has a base of BlackBerry customers who are interested in purchasing RIM’s BlackBerry 10 devices. He said Sprint would be listed as a BlackBerry 10 partner during RIM’s Jan. 30 announcement, but he did not provide any specifics about when Sprint would actually sell BB10 phones.
Rogers, Bell Mobility and Telus in Canada have all committed to BB10, as have all four of the major operators in the United Kingdom. RIM intends for BB10 to be a global launch, with the first two devices–a touchscreen smartphone and one with a Qwerty keyboard–launching in February. RIM CMO Frank Boulben told FierceWireless RIM plans to release around six BB10 devices in 2013.
RIM does not have any exclusive relationships with carriers for BB10 in any markets, Boulben said, and thus will be free to go after different market segments with its new platform and devices. “We intend over time as we transition the portfolio to have a full range of devices,” he said.
RIM has framed BlackBerry 10 as the key to the company’s future, and many analysts think RIM’s very existence will rest largely on how the platform is received by carriers and, ultimately, enterprises and consumers. Boulben expressed confidence, noting than 150 carriers are testing BB10 phones around the world. Still, the company faces challenges in regaining momentum. RIM captured 5.3 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012, according to research firm Gartner, down from 11 percent in the year-ago period.