BlackBerry said this week that it is permanently cutting the price of its Android-based smartphone, known as the Priv, amid continued weak hardware sales.
The Priv will now sell for $649 without a contract, a $50 cut from its standard price. That’s still a hefty sum, but puts it just below some other large-screen flagship devices from Samsung and others.
However, it may be too little, too late for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company. BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said the company will consider abandoning the hardware effort if it can’t make money by this year.
BlackBerry reported lower-than-expected sales of 600,000 devices as part of last week’s earnings, adding to questions over whether it will remain in the phone business beyond this year.
The company has been seeking to grow its software and services business and focus on helping businesses manage all manner of devices in a push to become less reliant on phone sales, which have been on the wane for years now.
In a last-ditch effort to save the phone business, BlackBerry last year shifted its focus to Android-based models, launching the curved-screen Priv with its slide-out keyboard. Until then it had been trying, without much success, to convince business users to adopt its BlackBerry 10 operating system.
In last week’s earnings conference call, Chen said the company is working to expand distribution of the Priv this quarter to new countries and carriers, adding that it has taken longer than expected for the Priv to come to Verizon’s network.
Chen said the company now believes it needs to sell roughly 3 million devices a year to turn the unit profitable, something he said he is still optimistic the company can do.