BlackBerry Q10 U.S. shipments delayed?

CEO Heins says network testing by U.S. carriers could delay shipments of the Q10 and its Qwerty keyboard until June

The BlackBerry Q10 with a physical qwerty keyboard may not be available in the U.S. until May or June, suggested BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins in an interview with the Associated Press.

The BlackBerry Q10 has a physical keyboard.

A May or June release Q10 would be eight to 10 weeks after the expected mid-March release of the BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen smartphone in the U.S.

Heins told reporters at a launch event on Jan. 30 that all four major U.S. carriers would have the Z10 touchscreen smartphone by mid-March and that some global carriers would be offering the Q10 in April.

Some reports interpreted his comments at the time to mean that the Q10 would appear on U.S. carriers in April, but that's apparently not the case.

The exact release dates will come from each wireless provider, Heins told the AP. The Q10 would likely be released eight to 10 weeks after the Z10, he added.

If the mid-March release date holds for U.S. shipments of the Z10, that means a mid-May to early June shipment of the Q10.

The carriers haven't yet been specific on when the device will be available.

Sprint has said it will carry the Q10 in coming months, while AT&T has said it will carry both models, but didn't provide a shipment date. Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile haven't responded to requests to comment on when they plan to release the product.

Timing of the release of new smartphones has been a big concern for both corporate customers and BlackBerry investors, considering the 18-month delay in launching the Z10 and Q10.

Heins said that any shipment delays can be traced to U.S. carriers testing the phones for their networks. The Z10 was released in the UK on Jan. 31, and in Canada on Tuesday.

Delays in releasing products are of special concern to investors and others, partly because the Samsung Galaxy S IV is expected to launch in March, while Apple is rumored to be launching the next generation iPhone (the iPhone 5S?) in early summer.

While reviews have praised the new Z10 and the new BlackBerry 10 operating system that runs it, the company's stock price fell as much as 12% following the Jan. 30 kickoff because of apparent concern by investors about the timing of shipments. BlackBerry stock rebounded earlier this week.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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