BlackBerry Ltd.: What Does a $699 Price Tag Mean for the Priv’s Future?

BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) is pricing the Priv in line with other high-end smartphones. Will it work?

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BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) has been slowly releasing new information about the upcoming Priv smartphone, and on Friday we learned one of the most important details: the phone’s price.

In the United States, the Priv will cost US$699, while here in Canada the phone would set you back $899. So, what does this mean for the Priv’s future?

A comparison

The chart below shows how the Priv’s price compares with recent phones from Samsung and Apple. Prices in Canada are from the Bell store, while prices in the United States come from Verizon Wireless.

American Price ($US) Canadian Price ($)
BlackBerry Priv 699 899
Apple iPhone 6s+ 750 1,055
Apple iPhone 6+ 650 970
Apple iPhone 6s 650 915
Apple iPhone 6 550 840
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 768 950
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge 672 830
Samsung Galaxy S6 576 730

Clearly, the Priv is being sold as a premium product. Down in the United States, only the latest plus-sized phones from Apple and Samsung cost more. And up here in Canada, the Priv costs about the same as the iPhone 6s, and more than the Galaxy S6 edge.

Who will pay this price?

It has become clear by now that BlackBerry has completely given up on the consumer market. After all, if you’re not using this phone at the office, it’s very unlikely you would pay as much for the Priv as you would for the iPhone 6s. At the end of the day, BlackBerry’s security features and physical keyboards only go so far.

Even in the corporate world, the Priv faces a steep uphill climb. Many large organizations, including big banks, have been placing a bigger emphasis on cost control, and this often means making employees bring their own devices to work.

On the bright side, the Priv should do well with employees at a more senior level. But, of course, this is a much smaller market.

Not looking good

The Priv does have two big distinctions relative to the competition: its slide-out keyboard and BlackBerry’s reputation for mobile security. Yet it is difficult to see these factors making a big impact on sales.

Perhaps the company would have done better to release a cheaper phone first. That way it could get the device into more people’s hands, and restart some sales momentum. Then maybe a second Android phone could be released for more of a premium.

At this point, it’s hard to see many people paying up for a phone not made by Apple or Samsung. BlackBerry investors, be warned.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Benjamin Sinclair has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Verizon is a recommendation of Stock Advisor Canada.

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