The customers have spoken—Rogers will sell BlackBerry Z30

TORONTO – Rogers Communications says loyal BlackBerry smartphone users have spoken, and it will carry the BlackBerry Z30 after all.

The telecom giant said Wednesday it has reversed its decision not to sell the new smartphone due to a strong response from its customers — particularly on social media.

Rogers now plans to carry the phone on its website, as well as through its national reservation system and directly to business customers, it said.

“We have a longstanding partnership with BlackBerry and continue to be big supporters of the company and their products,” Rogers spokeswoman Patricia Trott said in a statement.

The move comes after Rogers, one of the country’s largest wireless carriers, faced a backlash on message boards and Twitter last week from customers.

Some users accused the telecom provider of abandoning a fellow Canadian company while it was struggling to turn around its operations. Others made a point of saying they would cancel their Rogers services if the company didn’t change its mind.

The controversy set off a flurry of activity from some of Rogers’ competitors, including Telus (TSX:T), which tweeted to some disgruntled Rogers customers that another carrier was waiting in the wings if they decided to switch providers.

BlackBerry (TSX:BB) has said the Z30 will be stocked by other Canadian carriers like Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus, as well as retailers like Best Buy and Future Shop, starting Oct. 15. Rogers says the device is going through a certification process and will be available later this month.

Prices will be set by each of the retailers.

The BlackBerry Z30 comes with a five-inch screen, improved battery life and a faster processor than the models released earlier this year. It’s larger than most smartphones, but smaller than the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which the company recently stopped producing after two years.

The new Z30 was launched in Malaysia in September with little fanfare, shortly before BlackBerry announced it would lose nearly $1 billion in the second quarter as it wrote down the value of unsold smartphones and prepared to cut about 4,500 jobs, or 40 per cent of its global workforce.

A potential takeover of BlackBerry has heightened attention on what will happen to the company, with Fairfax Financial (TSX:FFH), BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder, emerging last week with a preliminary US$4.7-billion takeover offer.

Last week, BlackBerry filed documents with regulators which showed that sales of its new BlackBerry 10 devices have been faltering. The company also said that the launch of its recent strategic review process “may have negatively impacted demand for the company’s products” in its most recent quarter.

BlackBerry spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger issued a brief comment after hearing of the Rogers decision.

“Rogers has been and continues to be a great partner for BlackBerry,” she said in an email.

“We are very pleased that they will carry the BlackBerry Z30.”

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