Android Headliner: BlackBerry Priv Set Up to Fail, Already

BlackBerry pre release hands on 1

Leaks, and rumors have come and gone. Now the BlackBerry Priv is available for pre-order. If I’m honest, it still feels a bit weird to be writing about a BlackBerry phone here on Android Headlines. The Priv is the Canadian smartphone maker’s first Android-powered device. It’s fully Android, and not forked like Amazon has done, and Microsoft/Nokia as well.  We’ve got the full suite of Google services here, along with some pretty high-end specs, including a 5.4-inch 2560×1440 resolution AMOLED curved display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, microSD card slot, 18MP camera on the back and a 3410mAh battery. We also have BlackBerry’s enterprise software here, making this a pretty secure smartphone. So why is the BlackBerry Priv set up to fail? Because of the price.

On Friday, BlackBerry made the Priv available to pre-order in Canada, the UK and US. With the price sitting at $899 in Canada, £559 in the UK and $699 in the US. That’s a whole lot of cash for a smartphone. Now if you look around on the internet at prices of the Galaxy S6, or Galaxy Note 5, or HTC One M9, or even the iPhone 6S. You’ll notice that the BlackBerry Priv is cheaper. However, those phones are sold through carriers. The majority of them are sold either on a contract or a financing plan. There is a very, very small percentage of people that are buying phones at full retail. And even smaller percentage that are buying them at full retail at $700 (at least in the US).

This isn’t really news for most of us, but BlackBerry isn’t doing to well. They’ve acknowledged that they aren’t giving up on BlackBerry 10 and are still continuing development. But this Android-powered Priv should have been the light at the end of the tunnel. It should have been their “hero” device. And it could have been. Up until pricing was announced, the entire Android community was ecstatic about a BlackBerry running on Android, and stock Android at that. Not only was it a BlackBerry (which most of us had in a former life), but it was a slider with a physical keyboard. It was also a beautiful looking device. I, myself, had never been a fan of BlackBerry’s hardware. But the Priv definitely peaked my interest. If BlackBerry priced the Priv right around $399, or even at $499. They would have sold a ton. I would have definitely pre-ordered it, even at $499.

It’s quite obvious that here they are aiming at the enterprise market, which will typically drop anywhere near a grand on a smartphone. However, the flip side to that is they only upgrade phones about once every 5 years. So the market is really small at this point in time. BlackBerry should have been aiming for the consumer market as a whole. As that would have had a much greater impact with the Priv. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Android-powered BlackBerry announced soon, and be much cheaper. Remember, we did see about three Android-powered BlackBerries leaked earlier this year. Now some could be prototypes, but I doubt that BlackBerry will be a “one and done” when it comes to trying out Android on their hardware.

At $699 this is definitely a tough sell. Hopefully BlackBerry realize that and lower the price a bit. Or we may end up seeing a fire sale pretty soon for the BlackBerry Priv.