BlackBerry Z10 price drops at Best Buy


A BlackBerry salesperson displays a BlackBerry Z10 during the launch of the BlackBerry 10 smartphone in Mumbai February 25, 2013. (VIVEK PRAKASH/REUTERS)

The BlackBerry Z10 is hitting the discount rack at Best Buy, with the retailer dropping the price of the all-touch phone, roughly four months after its release.

A look at Best Buy’s Web site Friday showed that versions of the phone running on Verizon and AT&T are being offered for $49 with a two-year contract, down dramatically from its launch price of $199.99. On AT&T and Verizon’s Web sites, the phone is being offered for $99.99 with a two-year contract.

BlackBerry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the price drop.

These deep discounts coming so soon after the phone’s launch don’t bode well for BlackBerry, which is already facing mounting questions about tepid sales of its latest smartphones and its long-term prospects in the hardware market. Earlier this week, chief executive Thorsten Heins faced pointed criticism at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, with at least one attendee characterizing the U.S. launch of the its latest smartphones as a “disaster.”

Heins disputed that characterization, but did say that the launch didn’t go as well as he had hoped. (The company has also confirmed that BlackBerry axed its head of U.S. sales, Richard Piasentin, last month.) Heins said that BlackBerry, which missed analyst expectations with its latest earnings report, is going through a year of transition and asked shareholders for their patience.

The company is fighting an uphill battle to gain a foothold against competing devices from Apple, Samsung and other manufacturers. On Tuesday, the analysis firm Chitika, which looks at mobile Web traffic, released a report saying that phones running BlackBerry’s latest operating system had picked up some share since the June launch of its new keyboard-toting phone, the Q10.

But overall, BlackBerry’s share of the total market has dropped, the research firm said, probably because those using older BlackBerrys are moving away from those devices.

“BlackBerry will have to maneuver quickly and intelligently if the company is to remain competitive in the handset marketplace,” the research firm said in a blog post.

Related stories:

AP: RIM shareholders approve name change to BlackBerry as CEO pleads for patience

BlackBerry Z10: Can this phone save BlackBerry?

BlackBerry Q10: The classic BlackBerry gets a makeover

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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