BlackBerry Partnership: Less Than Meets the Eye?

While BlackBerry’s (NASDAQ:BBRY) announcement that one of its partners was buying a boatload of its newest smartphone might have wowed investors at first, some may now feel deceived, as guesses on who that partner may be have narrowed down.

BlackBerry’s history has been a rollercoaster ride. BlackBerry initially rose through the ranks to become a top cellphone brand in the U.S.; it was even arguably the first smartphone maker. But then, from its height, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and devices based on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android sent it falling down toward marginality.

In January, BlackBerry tried to turn around its downward slide with the launch of a new operating system, BB10, a fully-touchscreen smartphone that could go toe-to-toe with other smartphones on the market, and a new name. But, BlackBerry doesn’t have the market sway it once had, and putting a phone out amid tense competition would not be easy.

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Although the new device has launched in Canada and the UK already, the U.S. is just receiving them this month, and BlackBerry may have excited investors earlier this month when the company said that a partner ordered 1 million BlackBerry phones. That announcement triggered a jump of more than 8 percent in BlackBerry’s shares. However, those investors may not have been overly excited…

Some analysts and industry source believe BlackBerry’s partnership may be with Miami-based smartphone distributor Brightstar, but this has not been confirmed by either company. Brightstar works with carriers and manufacturers to arrange the flow of the devices and work out supply chain logistics. Many cellphone manufacturers selling to the U.S. work with the company, and it is not as big of a deal to have the company order a million BlackBerrys as it would be if a large carrier had ordered that many.

Further adding to the sting is the timeline for the order and the products for the order are unclear. A natural assumption would be that the partner ordered 1 million of the newest Z10 devices, but that may not necessarily be the case. Additionally, the order could be stretched out over a long period, making it less immediately beneficial to BlackBerry.

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BlackBerry’s shares made gains this month until just before the release of the Z10 in the U.S. last Friday, and then they quickly slid down from over $16 per share to just over $14 per share. If Brightstar turns out to be the partner, shares could be expected to slide even further.

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