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BlackBerry doesn’t want to “cheapen” its brand with $50 to $60 handsets

Many are suggesting that BlackBerry is pinning its hope of surviving (even making a comeback) on its latest BlackBerry 10 OS along with a few new handsets.  However, the adoption rate of BB10 devices is still not rising quickly enough to indicate that the Canada-based smartphone maker is back in the swing of things.

Furthermore, it seems like BlackBerry has only one plan, and that’s to take on giants like Samsung and Apple head on.  BlackBerry’s CEO, Thorsten Heins, has indicated recently that his company doesn’t intend on stooping down to the feature phone segment.  That is, BlackBerry doesn’t intend on mass producing ultra-cheap BlackBerry devices anytime soon. 

(BlackBerry's CEO, Thorsten Heins, is convinced that consumers will love the Z10. Image | WSJ)

“You will not see us getting into the 50 to 60-buck phone segment.  This is not BlackBerry,” Heins told Bloomberg.

Heins’ proclamation is a bold one indeed, because the two big guns in the smartphone business—Apple and Samsung—currently hold the majority of the high-end market share, and there's a very slim chance that the Z10 will yank away a significant number of iOS and Android users anytime soon.  So while up-and-comers like ZTE and Huawei are growing quickly by targeting emerging markets with their dirt cheap Android handsets, Heins is confident that his company will maintain and grow its market share with premium BB10 handsets.

While it’s true that a decent $60 Android handset is still hard to come by, there’s no denying that growing markets like China and India are thirsting for affordable smartphones.  Yet, BlackBerry doesn’t want to demote its brand by deploying low-end BB10 handsets. 

New, and more affordable, BlackBerry 10 devices will roll out later this year, but don’t expect any of them to be dirt cheap.  BlackBerry is maintaining its high-class image, but will its pride cause its downfall? Heins doesn't seem to think so.

The Z10 is slated for arrival in the U.S. on March 22 with a starting price of $199.99 with a two year contract from AT&T.  How well the Z10, and by extension the BB10 mobile OS, fare in one of the most competitive markets will provide some insight as to where BlackBerry will end up several months from now.

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