BlackBerry CEO expects 'several tens of millions' of Q10 unit sales

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Following a strong UK launch of BlackBerry's latest Q10 smartphone, CEO Thorsten Heins said he expects the trend to continue as the company prepares to tap into an installed user base for wider release.

The QWERTY keyboard-toting Q10 officially started sales in the UK on Monday, and initial sales performance appears to be high, as a number of department stores and retailers saw quick stock outs. BlackBerry's successful device launch sparked a 3.9 percent stock price spike in New York, with shares hitting $15.61 before the bell.

"We have very, very good first signs already after the launch in the UK,” Heins told Bloomberg in an interview at the Milken Institute conference. “This is going into the installed base of more than 70 million BlackBerry users so we have quite some expectations. We expect several tens of million of units.”

Last week, reviewers lauded the new Q10's physical keyboard and respectable battery life, saying the handset is the return to QWERTY many users have been waiting for.

BlackBerry is counting on the next-generation BB10 mobile platform to resuscitate revenues after smartphones like Apple's iPhone and Android-based handsets pushed the once-dominant Ontario-based company to the wayside. The firm's slice of the worldwide smartphone market has quickly dwindled, with sluggish shipments dropping the company out of the top five earlier this year.

So far there are only two offerings using the BlackBerry 10. The touchscreen Z10, which shipped one million units since it began rolling out in January, just recently made its way to the U.S. at the end of March. BlackBerry's Q10 is expected to see worldwide distribution by the end of quarter two.