BlackBerry admits the Priv was too pricey, will release two mid-range models

BlackBery Priv
Ted Kritsonis/Digital Trends

If you were excited for BlackBerry’s first Android phone, but thought the $700 price tag was a tough pill to swallow, you’re not alone.

BlackBerry CEO and Executive Chairman of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors, John Chen, sat down with The National and said the Priv “was too high-end a product.”

The company received a lot of feedback from enterprise customers saying that $700 was “too steep,” and were hoping to pay $400 for a device. Mr. Chen continued, “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 did say the company will release two more Android handsets, but if you’re thinking they will pack the same power for less money, think again. Although Chen didn’t get into the specifics, he did say they would be mid-range handsets with one of them sporting a physical keyboard. So they are more than likely to feature less powerful specs in an effort to get the price closer to the $400 mark.

According to the numbers released last week, the Priv did not bring BlackBerry back to its glory days. It didn’t even give the company a small boost. Analysts were expecting the company would sell 850,000 phones during the first quarter of this year, but it only sold 600,000. Unfortunately we don’t know how many Priv handsets were sold, but it obviously didn’t set the world on fire.

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Although two more Android phones are in the works, speculation is rampant that BlackBerry will close its handset division and concentrate on the software side instead. On the bright side, Chen said the handset division did lessen its losses by 50 percent last quarter. However, he also said the division would close if profitability could not be achieved.

These two mid-range Android phones could very well be BlackBerry’s last chance to revive the division. Chen still thinks the company has something to offer when it comes to Android because of its commitment to security.

“We’re the only people who really secure Android, taking the security features of BlackBerry that everyone knows us for and making it more reachable for the market.”

It appears BlackBerry is all in on Android as Chen said there were no plans to release handsets using the BB10 operating system. They will support the software with updates for existing devices, however.

Chen didn’t give us a clue as to when we will see either of these new handsets, but we won’t be surprised if they don’t make an appearance until the second half of the year.