BlackBerry 10 needs to offer lower-end devices

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| Published: December 27, 2012


With the upcoming release of BlackBerry 10, many people are excited to see what RIM has in store for the New Year. With updated features such as widgets, an updated version of BlackBerry Messenger, and an overall much-needed refreshed interface, RIM will hopefully be in the running to pick up some new business this year. However, the only devices I have seen surface so far are higher end devices, and I can’t help but think that BlackBerry might benefit more if they were to offer some lower-end options.

BlackBerry has done well in the past offering a wide range of devices, from either free-$50 to upwards of $200 for one of their devices. Lately it seems that BlackBerry offers less from the lower-end spectrum and more towards outrageous prices for higher end phones. I distinctly remember being pretty excited for the BlackBerry Bold 9900 series, as they finally released one of their famous QWERTY-keyboard phones that also included a touch screen. I also remember raising my eyebrow at the cost of the device: $249 – on contract. I immediately knew that the devices would not sell well, and BlackBerry was only digging a deeper grave. I turned out to be right; the device most certainly didn’t sell well.

I hope that BlackBerry learned from its mistake. Although BlackBerry 10 is definitely going to be an improvement for BlackBerry, the pricing needs to be at least on par with other comparable devices. How could they expect to sell many of their 9900 series when you had devices like the iPhone 3GS which started at the tempting price of free? Or what about the iPhone 4 which was, at the time, priced at $99? Not to mention how many comparable Androids there are to choose from. Pricing is a huge factor in how well a device will sell.

I am happy to see that it looks like they’re not completely getting rid of their QWERTY-keyboard design. Although an all-touchscreen BlackBerry device opens the door to prospective customers, shutting out the users that stick around for their signature design would probably keep them in exactly the same place. But without offering some type of lower-end version of BlackBerry 10, they might be crippling themselves. There is some speculation regarding the BlackBerry 10 R-Series possibly being similar to their lower-end Curve line. Even if it does turn out to be a lower-end device, I think they should give the series a little more attention for those interested in something comparable to the Curve line.

There are two companies who took two different approaches to how they run their business. You have Apple, who releases one type of phone once a year with minor tweaks to make it better. After a new iPhone is released, the previous version decreases in price significantly, and the one before that follows suit. This has played out well for them for a while, but numbers say their sales are starting to slow down. Google and their open-platform OS Android allows many manufacturers to create Android devices, so you have a huge variety of Androids to pick from ranging from low-end to high end. Regardless, both companies have stayed successful for quite a few years. So what tactic does BlackBerry need to use in order to climb their way back up?

I think they need to offer high, mid, and low-range versions of BlackBerry 10 in order to find the success they’re looking for. And maybe they’re planning on doing that and I just haven’t seen it. So far, all I see are higher-end devices, which is good that they’re aiming high. But when you’re starting off at the bottom, you need to work your way up.

Would you like to see BlackBerry have a range of devices they have to offer? Do you think they can only succeed if they create higher end devices since they’re so far behind Android and iOS? Let me know what you think!