The BlackBerry Curve 9320 is the cornerstone of RIM’s attempt to salvage its Christmas season and get it through to next year with the launch of BlackBerry 10. The UK is one of Research In Motion’s most important markets in Europe. The latest Kantar World Panel numbers for August-October period showed BlackBerry’s share of the UK market dropping from 19% to 8% in a year, but RIM is now executing the most aggressive BlackBerry price campaign British consumers have ever seen in a bid to stand its ground before its new devices arrive.
As the price of the 9320 crashes to rock bottom, the high-end BlackBerry Bold pricing remains at a completely unrealistic level. It looks like UK operators have given up on pricier BlackBerry phones and are now putting all promotional support behind the dirt cheap 9320.
Phones4U just broke new ground by dropping the price of the 9320 from £150 to just £99. Traditionally, even the cheapest Curve models have cost around £130 in the UK during the first year on the market. The 9320 debuted in May and it is already breaking the £100 barrier. In comparison, Phones4U’s Christmas pre-paid deal for Samsung’s Galaxy Ace II is £156. Nokia’s cheapie Lumia 800 starts at £150.
At another UK retail powerhouse, E2Save, the price of the 9320 remains at £130. But on the contract phone side, E2Save is launching a monster BlackBerry campaign: the cheapest 9320 now starts at under £10 per month.
This is unprecedented for a relatively new BlackBerry device. The cheapest monthly offers for budget Android phones like the Galaxy Y and the Galaxy Ace stand at £25 and £17. High-end smartphones have contract prices starting from £35 per month.
RIM has started executing an amazingly aggressive Christmas price war in the UK.
UK operators have apparently completely given up on the Bold and RIM sees no reason to offer steep price cuts for the device. The 9320 is now the only game in town. Perhaps this makes short-term, margin management sense. Perhaps the goal is to protect the high-end BlackBerry brand. But the result is that the only deals the consumers see are the ones hawking BlackBerry phones at £99 in pre-paid and £10 per month as contract devices.