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Poor Priv sales could spell the end of BlackBerry’s mobile division

Ted Kritsonis/Digital Trends
Priv, an Android phone with a physical keyboard, isn’t a big seller — but that may be because it’s made by BlackBerry. The company bet it all on the smartphone, but it looks like loyal customers wanted a device running BlackBerry’s operating system, rather than Android.

An unnamed AT&T executive said BlackBerry’s first Android phone isn’t doing so well, and is seeing a lot of returns., according to Cnet. The news may not be so surprising, but what’s interesting is that it’s coming from an AT&T executive. AT&T has been a close ally of the telecommunications company, and the comments may mean it could be difficult for BlackBerry to find a carrier to sell its future devices.

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“The BlackBerry Priv is really struggling,” a “high-level executive” told Cnet. “We’ve seen more returns than we would like.”

And reasons revolve around BlackBerry customers struggling to switch from BlackBerry OS to Android — but that’s not the only problem. BlackBerry marketed the phone as a high-end device, and even priced the Priv higher than the iPhone 6S at $700.

“There isn’t much volume growth in the premium segment, where Apple and Samsung dominate,” the executive reportedly said.

But we knew that already — BlackBerry CEO John Chen admitted it himself when he said the Priv was “too high-end a product.”

““The fact that we came out with a high end phone [as our first Android device] was probably not as wise as it should have been,” Chen said.

Two rumored midrange Android products are reportedly in the works, and they could be BlackBerry’s last chance at reviving its mobile division. But if people are clamoring for smartphones running BlackBerry 10, it’s unclear if Android phones will generate any profit. Chen said the company has no plans to release a handset running the BB10 operating system.

And it’s no joke that the Priv and the two rumored Android smartphones are BlackBerry’s last hope — Chen said in October that the company would “think twice” about staying in the smartphone business if it cannot generate a profit in 2016.

Analysts expected the company to sell at least 850,000 devices in the first quarter of 2016, but BlackBerry fell short of expectations by only selling 600,000 handsets, the company reported in April.

BlackBerry did not respond for comment.

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