What do you do when your premiere product isn’t selling as well as expected? First you try to market it as hard as you can, utilizing all resources and channels as your budget allows. And when that fails, you perhaps have very little choice but to cut your losses and cut the product’s price to encourage more sales. That might be the process, more or less, that BlackBerry went through with the Priv smartphones. Under the guise of making it more accessible to more people, the company has implemented a permanent price cut for the smartphone in the US, UK, and Europe.
The price cut immediately follows reports of the rather underwhelming sales numbers of the BlackBerry Priv, which makes the motive behind it all the more suspect. Despite CEO John Chen’s constant positive but vague remarks about sales figures, the Priv reportedly only sold 600,000 units in the fourth fiscal quarter. It underperformed compared to the 700,000 of the previous quarter and is even more dismal compared to the 850,000 Wall Street Estimates.
Not that the BlackBerry Priv itself was a disappointment. By 2015 standards, it is a pretty decent smartphone. Unlike BlackBerry’s previous devices, this one ran a full Android OS, solving the problem of apps. It does add BlackBerry’s own security and enterprise solutions on top. And then there’s the nice physical QWERTY keyboard that many professionals love to have. Then again, those features are also two-edged swords. The keyboard might paint the Priv more as a niche product and the Android OS might have turned off some of BlackBerry’s die-hard fans in the process.
But it may have been availability and pricing that had the biggest effect on sales. In the US, the Priv initially launched with AT&T only. It would take months before T-Mobile and Verizon would be supported. As for the price, the Priv went a bit higher than flagship models from Samsung or Apple.
That last bit changes today, but in a very small way. Again in the US, the BlackBerry Priv gets a $50 price cut down to $649. In Europe, the new price is €729 while the UK gets £529. That does put it on par with the likes of the Galaxy S7, but with last year’s specs. The biggest question now is whether that price cut won’t be too late to save the Priv or should BlackBerry look for salvation in a more affordable mid-range hero.