Why the BlackBerry Z10 is on sale in the U.K first

The BlackBerry Z10 with the U.K. flag added via Photoshop.

3 days ago, the company formerly known as RIM pulled out all the stops at a super-swanky event in New York to launch two new phones that will either kill or cure the company.

Despite the global launch happening in the U.S., America will be the last in the first batch of countries to see the Z10, BlackBerry's first phone to ship with its new OS, BlackBerry 10. Americans have to wait until March to buy the touch-screen phone, but it became available to buy in the U.K. yesterday. That's six days ahead even of BlackBerry's home market in Canada. On the face of it, this seems like a strange decision: why release the Z10 in a relatively small country first?

The overriding reason, according to Francisco Jeronimo, research manager for European Mobile Devices at IDC, is that the U.K. is the biggest BlackBerry market in the world. Contrast his figures: in the third quarter of 2012, BlackBerry had a 12 percent market share in the U.K., with Apple at 25 percent. In the U.S., BlackBerry accounted for just 2 percent to Apple's 25 percent.

Speaking, a BlackBerry senior VP Andrew Bocking echoed this point: "The U.K. has been a key market for us for so long. We have over 8 million BlackBerry users today in the U.K. and we are very excited for them to be on the leading edge getting access to BB10 on the Z10."