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BlackBerry Ltd.: 3 Reasons the Priv Is the Company’s Last Device

BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) has now made the Priv available for pre-order and is hoping the Android-based device will reinvigorate the company’s hardware business. But the launch is already off to a rocky start.

First, the name Priv was not well received. Then CEO John Chen gave a very awkward Priv demonstration on The Business News Network. And most recently, the Priv’s high price has come under fire.

At this point, the Priv’s task seems like an impossible one and, in all likelihood, this is the last BlackBerry phone we will ever see. Below are three reasons why.

1. Too little, too late

If BlackBerry had released the Priv two years earlier, the phone would have had a decent chance at success. But the company has waited far too long.

One obvious reason is that BlackBerry is no longer known as a premium device maker. Last quarter the average sales price for its phones was just US$240. By comparison, that number is nearly US$700 at Apple.

BlackBerry’s competitors also have much more experience with Android, which could prove to be a big advantage. Notably, the Priv doesn’t even come with the latest version of Android, which may lead to problems as users upgrade.

The Priv’s main distinction is its slide-out keyboard, which makes the phone ideal for typing long emails or text messages. But because of BlackBerry’s decline, smartphone users have generally gotten accustomed to virtual keyboards on touchscreens.

Making matters worse, the BlackBerry brand isn’t the same as it once was. And the effect of a battered brand should never be overlooked.

2. An impossible goal

Earlier this year, Mr. Chen said that BlackBerry needs about five million smartphone sales annually to turn a profit in its hardware division. Unfortunately, such a number seems a far way off.

Just last quarter, BlackBerry shipped 800,000 devices, and, of course, this number has been decreasing steadily. So, for BlackBerry to reach five million annual sales, the Priv not only needs to stop the company’s downward momentum, but reverse it as well. It’s hard to see this happening.

3. A greater focus on software

If BlackBerry shuts down its hardware business, the immediate effects would be painful. Many people would lose their jobs, and the news media will not be kind.

Longer term though, BlackBerry will be able to focus more on its software business and on serving its most important customers. Ultimately, this may be just what the company needs. So, even if you hold BlackBerry shares and are afraid that the Priv won’t sell well, you don’t need to dump your shares just yet.

BlackBerry is still a very risky stock. This one is way better

Our analysts have identified this company as one TOP stock for the rest of 2015. And you can download the name, ticker symbol, and price guidance absolutely FREE.

Fool contributor Benjamin Sinclair has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.

NEW! This Stock Could Be Like Buying Amazon In 1997

For only the 5th time in over 14 years, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner just issued a Buy Recommendation on this recent Canadian IPO.

Stock Advisor Canada’s Chief Investment Adviser, Iain Butler, also recommended this company back in March – and it’s already up a whopping 57%!

Enter your email address below to find out how you can claim your copy of this brand new report, “Breakthrough IPO Receives Rare Endorsement.”

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