BlackBerry Unveils a $299 Ultra-Secure Android Smartphone
The new DTEK50 is also available for preorder in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. In the United States, the handset will be available initially through Best Buy, B&H and Amazon. Preorder customers through ShopBlackBerry.com will for a limited time receive a free BlackBerry Mobile Power Pack, a high-capacity portable charger worth $59.99, to power their devices. The offer is only good through 2:59 a.m. EST on Aug. 8. Tuong Nguyen, an analyst with Gartner, told eWEEK that while the new phone's features and price tag appear to be suitable, "the bigger issue is making an impact in such a competitive market with a single hardware offering. Large vendors like Samsung and Apple are already experiencing speed bumps in sales volume." Nguyen said that while the new handset's "high-security features will appeal to a certain subset of the market … [that] the broader market--both consumer and enterprise--[has] many viable alternatives. The price is fine, but I think it's all the aforementioned issues that will limit traction. I do not think this specific device will give them any headway." In April, BlackBerry announced that it would launch two new lower-priced Android smartphone models later in 2016 in an effort to win back customers and increase sales after its flagship, high-end Android Priv phone failed to catch on with buyers as much as the company had hoped. The Priv, which BlackBerry targeted at enterprise customers, might have been priced too high at about $700 when it debuted in September 2015. Earlier in April, BlackBerry dropped the price of the Priv to $649 as it tried to increase sales of the device, which features both a touch-screen and a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard.The company has been having a tough time financially for some time. In late June, BlackBerry reported a net loss of $670 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2017, compared with a net loss of $238 million in the fourth quarter. The company's GAAP revenue was $400 million, while its non-GAAP revenue was $424 million for the first quarter.
BlackBerry's fall from dominating the enterprise smartphone market has been swift and stunning. In early 2006, before Apple's first iPhones appeared, half of all smartphones sold were BlackBerry models. By 2009, though, its share of the global smartphone market was down to 20 percent. The company continues to face growing competition from Apple, Samsung, Google and others.