Blackberry falls as Home Depot chooses iPhone

Elizabeth Fournier
SHARES in Blackberry plummeted by as much as six per cent during early trading yesterday, after one of the US’s biggest retailers said it was replacing its employee handsets with Apple’s rival iPhone.

A spokesman for DIY-chain Home Depot said as many as 10,000 of its management and corporate employees would switch their Blackberry models for iPhones in the coming months, though the rest of its 60,000 store employees would keep their existing handsets.
“We are replacing the current base of BlackBerry technology with iPhone, but these are not the mobile devices used in our stores,” Stephen Holmes said.

Home Depot’s snub is the latest blow to the Canadian firm, which just last month launched a new range of smartphones and pinned its hopes on the success on BB10 – a new operating system it hopes will win back customers from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android systems.

It also rebranded itself under the Blackberry, dropping the Research in Motion moniker and renamed its Toronto-listed shares under the BB ticker.

BlackBerry declined to comment directly on Home Depot’s move yesterday, but in an email said it is seeing strong demand for its new Z10.

“We have over 2,700 unique businesses in North America already registered for our BlackBerry 10 Ready Program,” Amy McDowell, a spokeswoman for the company, said.

“We are confident that BlackBerry is, and will continue to be, the best solution for corporations managing large smartphone deployments.”

BlackBerry unveiled two new devices – a full touch-screen smartphone dubbed the Z10 and a more traditional physical keyboard version named Q10 – at a launch event in New York on 30 January.

Shares, which have gained 39 per cent over the past year, recovered slightly yesterday to close at C$15.76.