BlackBerry (BBRY:US), the Canadian smartphone maker, expects to start selling its new Q10 keyboard-equipped model in the U.S. by the end of May for about $249, a price that’s $50 more than Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s top-selling iPhone 5.
AT&T Inc. (T:US), Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T- Mobile USA Inc. -- the four largest U.S. carriers -- have all confirmed they will sell the phone, Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry said yesterday. The suggested $249 price assumes that buyers will also sign up for a two-year contract.
The move signals that BlackBerry won’t be competing with Apple on price, even as it tries to claw back market share lost to the iPhone and other smartphones. The iPhone 5 with 16 gigabytes of memory sells for $199.99 with a two-year contract. Pricing the Q10 above that level is probably a deliberate effort to target business users with deep pockets and expense accounts, said Anil Doradla, an analyst at William Blair & Co. in Chicago.
“They’ve decided this is not going to be a mass appeal phone, but one targeted at road warriors,” said Doradla, who has a neutral rating on BlackBerry shares. “It’s not the wrong thing to do.”
BlackBerry’s stock (BBRY:US) climbed 4 percent to $14.90 at the close in New York. The shares have risen 26 percent this year on optimism that the new BlackBerry 10 lineup can fuel a comeback.
The Q10 is the second phone in BlackBerry’s revamped lineup, following the touch-screen Z10, which sells for $199.99. The company is counting on the newer model to appeal to longtime users who want to stick with a physical keypad, rather than an iPhone-like screen.
The company, formerly known as Research In Motion Ltd. (BB), has steadily lost ground over the past three years to Apple’s iOS and Google Inc.’s Android operating system. Combined, those two platforms accounted for 91 percent of global smartphone sales in the fourth quarter, according to IDC. BlackBerry’s share dropped to 3.2 percent.
BlackBerry also said yesterday that Canadian carriers will begin selling the Q10 on May 1. Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI/B), BCE Inc. (BCE) and Telus Corp. (T), the country’s largest carriers, plan to offer the phone for C$199 ($194) on a three-year contract. The Q10 also will be sold in Canada by retailers such as Best Buy Co. (BBY:US) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT:US)
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