The U.S. carriers weren't particularly enthusiastic when selling BlackBerry's debut next-generation product, the
That's according to BlackBerry Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear, who spoke to CNET on the day of the Q10 launch. T-Mobile is the first to offer the Q10, which hit stores on Wednesday, and thewill follow in the coming days.
It marks the first time a BlackBerry device has sold across all four U.S. nationwide carriers, a feat that should help get the company's phones in more consumers' hands. While the all-touchscreen Z10 was launched to prove to the industry that BlackBerry could move beyond its keyboard roots, the Q10 is the phone that the company's faithful -- if shrinking -- base of users have been waiting for.
"This is our stronghold," Tear said. "There is no competition in this segment. No one will be able to provide the keyboard experience and touch experience with Q10."
While there has been a smattering of commercials for BlackBerry by the carriers, they've made little noise about the Z10 since it launched. Analysts have noted that sales representatives typically recommended the
Tear said that he was happy with the support that the carriers have provided to BlackBerry, but noted that the company has looked at deficiencies and areas of improvement during product launches and gone back to the carriers. The carriers, in turn, have been accommodating, he said.
"We have really good relations with all carriers across the board," he said.
BlackBerry is on the slow road to recovery after launching BlackBerry 10 and the Z10 earlier this year. While early sales have been positive, the company still has a lot to prove. Many are expecting the Q10 to be more significant catalyst to sales.
"With the Q10, a lot of people have been waiting for it," he said. "There are high expectations for it, and I think we improved it big time."
Tear declined to discuss sales for the Z10, instead deferring to the company's earnings report, which is scheduled for June 28.
Many are looking for numbers that will reverse its slide in the market. A recent study from Comscore indicated BlackBerry had actually lost U.S. market share in the three months that ended on April 13, or about three weeks after the Z10 launched. The company controlled 5.1 percent of the U.S. market as of April 13, down from 5.9 percent on Jan. 13.
Also nipping at its heels is Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, which controlled 3 percent of the market as of April 13, according to ComScore. Tear believes there is room for more than three mobile operating system, but touted the company's existing user base of 76 million customers as an advantage over other upstart mobile platforms.
Tear said to not underestimate the appeal of a refined physical keyboard, boasting that it was good enough to give up the other advantages found in an iPhone or Android device.
"You use your keyboard more than anything else," he said. "Typing is fundamental."
Unsurprisingly, Tear was tight-lipped about future devices, and declined to comment on when BlackBerry 10 would come to the PlayBook tablet or whether the lower end Q5 would show up in the U.S.
Today, Tear was all about the BlackBerry Q10. Whether his boast about the appeal of its keyboard rings true should become apparent in the coming weeks.