Late last Friday, I published an article here on Seeking Alpha called "Z is for Zero." The article was a short vignette about my experience visiting and calling on a handful of AT&T (T) Stores in an effort to see how, on a small scale, first day sales of the Blackberry (BBRY) Z10 were doing. As you can probably tell from the title, sales weren't doing very well.
My article simply reported what I saw and heard, but for my trouble I was lambasted by comments calling me everything from a liar to a troll, to a clown and worse. Certainly I know that a writer needs to have a thick skin and expect that readers will not always agree with his point of view and frankly, with a title like "Z is for Zero" I didn't expect many supporters or investors of Blackberry to be pleased by my findings. But even so, I was surprised at the vehemence and vitriol directed at me personally. After all, as one reader pointed out;
"this author……tells HIS personal experience in a rather casual, non-threatening way and everybody is ripping on him and telling him he's lying; even questioning his "real" intentions for writing the article (because) it doesn't fit the party line that die-hards want to hear"
The reader continued;
"what's wrong with you people? this was HIS experience. It was an interesting, creative slice-of-life read"
Indeed, although it was my experience, the feedback I garnered from my visits and calls was hardly unique. Many readers of my article, concurred and offered that they had similar experiences. In addition there were major news outlets such as CNBC and the Wall Street Journal that reported like-type stories during Friday's trading session. Even two reporters from the Canadian newspaper Globe & Mail reported:
"At the AT&T store in the heart of Manhattan's Times Square, there was no outward sign that Friday was a crucial day for BlackBerry in the world's largest market for high-end smartphones - no signs, no banners and no lines. Inside the store, staff outnumbered customers."
Indeed this was my experience writ large. What struck me as most odd, was not so much the sales, or lack thereof, but rather the complete absence of any marketing for the Z10 at the store level. I'm still scratching my head over that.
On the flip side, there were also several readers of my article who commented that they, as well, had visited or called several stores (one reader called 50 stores) and in response, many of those stores reported robust sales of the Z10.
In addition, several readers framed what I thought was the reasonable supposition that, first day or not, the middle of a weekday was not likely to be a good time to gauge sales interest as Blackberry's target market of business professionals were likely working, not shopping for phones. Still others opined that those same Blackberry customers were not the kind who were inclined to stand in lines but would more likely to make their purchase at a time and pace of their own choosing.
So, even though it was still early in the game with the Z10 having only been available here in the U.S. since Friday morning, I decided to venture out again today (Sunday) and re-survey the same 10 stores I had called and visited on Friday afternoon - just to see if any sales momentum seemed to be developing. The results of this admittedly informal poll was both encouraging and surprising.
According to store personnel at two locations, both of which had indicated zero sales on Friday, each had sold out of their initial allotment of 10 phones by Sunday afternoon. One store I contacted had three of it's original 15 unit shipment left, while three other stores had sold 60% of their initial stock of Z10's. Two others had sold out of half, and only one store had yet to sell any. That store, it seems, isn't expected to sell many as they were only allotted 2 phones to start with in the first place.
In total, 67% of the initial allotment for these ten stores has been sold in the past two days. That, my friends, is not too shabby.
This is the point where I stopped Friday, just reporting the numbers from my own tiny sampling of stores, and this is the point where I'm going to stop today. I draw no conclusions, nor do I make any predictions.
I encourage readers to do their own due diligence. Call some stores to ask how sales are doing and share that information with others here in the SA community. Your feedback to my articles, either critical or complementary is encouraged and appreciated, but let's keep it professional so that it ads to the discussion and experience for everyone.