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BlackBerry shipping 1 million new smartphones to mystery partner in its largest order ever

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BlackBerry Q10 (color-corrected stock)
BlackBerry Q10 (color-corrected stock)

BlackBerry claims to have received its largest order ever: a million of its new smartphones based on the BlackBerry 10 operating system. The company, long known as RIM before changing its name in January, has been attempting a comeback in the mobile market with a new operating system and new devices after falling far behind rivals Apple and Google. BlackBerry's new flagship touchscreen device, the Z10, has already gone on sale in the UK, and launches in the US in mid-March.

Right now Blackberry is staying mostly quiet about the order — it says it's bound by a confidentiality agreement not to name the mystery buyer — but the company says it was placed by an "established" partner. The news comes just as Samsung prepares to unveil its next flagship smartphone tomorrow, and ahead of BlackBerry's year-end fiscal report later this month. While a single order won't save the company, it's certainly a welcome boost for the new BlackBerry lineup; BlackBerry EVP Rick Costanzo says that "an order for one million devices is a tremendous vote of confidence in BlackBerry 10." Of course, without knowing who BlackBerry is selling to, it's hard to judge what the order means for the company's long-term success — big sales to partners like wireless carriers won't keep up unless they eventually end up in the hands of paying customers.