BlackBerry Priv becoming public disappointment

The BlackBerry Priv may be a private affair for its users, but it’s disappointment has turned public.

AT&T, the exclusive carrier of the BlackBerry Priv when it was released back in November, has taken to the press this week to point out that it’s been a 7-month disappointment for the carrier due to BlackBerry’s first Android smartphone. “The BlackBerry Priv is really struggling. We’ve seen more returns than we would like,” said an anonymous AT&T executive.

We don’t know the nature of the returns from the carrier, but just perusing the comments over at CNET, it appears that failed text messages that wouldn’t sync or send to the device were one problem. One user had to factory reset his BlackBerry Priv every few weeks just to get the messages to send. That would fix the problem until a few weeks later.

One problem I’ve said that existed with the BlackBerry Priv out the gate pertains to the slide-out QWERTY keyboard that could jam if one slides it in and out to much. Extending the keyboard could cause it to eventually jam and require repair. Now, some would say to me that you can just go and get it fixed, but consumers don’t want to invest in something that may need repair just a few months down the road. There’ve been few problems with this yet, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there’ll be some complaints, eventually.

A number of other issues have led to the BlackBerry Priv’s “meh” response, apart from returns due to various function problems (things that didn’t work right, which seems to make up the majority of returns with any phone). First, there was the price. The phone was released with a $699 price tag in the US, which was too high and in the premium price tag category with phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Samsung Galaxy S7, and the iPhone 6s. Samsung and Apple have been the only two that can get away with selling phones at that price, and BlackBerry seems to have assumed its nostalgic phone could reclaim the company’s former high-end status if it sold its devices at a ridiculous price tag. Why this is the case seems to be more in line with preserving dignity than anything else, but dignity doesn’t always sell a phone.

The BlackBerry Priv was the company’s first foray into the Android smartphone space. The company decided to favor Google Play Store access over its own BBOS, bringing with it Samsung’s dual curved edges and the company’s trademark slide-out QWERTY keyboard. BlackBerry announced the phone in a board meeting in a not-so-excited fashion (in order to save money on a more formal announcement, we assume), but the phone’s 18MP camera still lives in the top phone cameras of 2015. The company did have a carrier exclusive with AT&T for starters, though it eventually brought the Priv to Verizon and T-Mobile earlier this Spring. The company has announced a Marshmallow Beta program for its customers, hoping to receive feedback with upcoming OS versions, in an effort to improve the user experience and retain customers.

Have you purchased the Priv? Happy with the device? Disappointed? Frustrated? What do you think BlackBerry could have done better to make the phone a better sell?


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