BlackBerry has switched its focus back to the mid-range smartphone market after admitting that its recent flagship Android device, the BlackBerry Priv, was priced too high for enterprise customers.
The company’s chief executive, John Chen, told The National that BlackBerry plans to launch two mid-range Android handsets this year, one with a physical keyboard and one with a full touchscreen. He declined to say when the new devices would go on sale.
BlackBerry last week announced it had sold just 600,000 handsets during the three months to the end of March, well below analyst forecasts of 850,000. Mr Chen declined to say how many Privs had been sold during the period.
Mr Chen admitted that the Priv “was too high-end a product”, with its target market of enterprise customers put off by the handset’s US$700 price tag.
“The fact that we came out with a high end phone [as our first Android device] was probably not as wise as it should have been,” Mr Chen said during a visit to Abu Dhabi.
“A lot of enterprise customers have said to us, ‘I want to buy your phone but $700 is a little too steep for me. I’m more interested in a $400 device’.”
I know of a pretty big and well-known international company which used to spend as little as possible on BlackBerries. At one point the people working there started to demand other options, and many of them stopped using their work phones, preferring to bring their own. They were polled by management and soon thereafter, the firm bought close to ten thousand top of the line iPhones for their employees at full price. In the case of this particular enterprise, they would probably say the following to BB as feedback:
‘I want to buy your phone but it’s not worth $700 to us. I’m more interested in a $400 device.’