Canadian Tire, the sporting-goods and auto-parts retailer, will begin distributing the touch-screen Z10 and newer Q10 models to employees later this month at its namesake superstores as well as its financial-services unit and Sport Chek and Sports Experts chains, it said Friday in a statement.
BlackBerry is counting on big corporate orders for the Z10 and Q10, which has a physical keyboard, to fuel a sales recovery and claw back market share from Apple and Samsung Electronics. While the Z10 drew praise from critics for its multitasking software and virtual keyboard, BlackBerry shares have fallen on concern that sales and marketing by mobile-phone carriers aren't living up to expectations.
Krista Seggewiss, a BlackBerry spokeswoman, declined to comment on whether the Canadian Tire deal was the biggest BlackBerry 10 order announced by a corporate customer.
BlackBerry said that it sold about 1 million Z10 phones last quarter, roughly in line with analyst estimates. The Z10 went on sale in the U.S. in late March, after becoming available more than six weeks earlier in the U.K. and Canada.
Rogers Communications Inc. and other Canadian carriers have begun taking pre-orders for the Q10 and the device will be available in stores in "coming weeks," Rogers said April 9. No U.S. carrier has yet given a timing for a debut.
Last month, BlackBerry said one of its "established partners" had placed an order for 1 million BlackBerry 10 phones. That purchaser was a mobile-device distributor, according to research firm Detwiler Fenton & Co.