One could argue that BlackBerry is a success insofar as being the device that saved the company’s skin when it flirted with bankruptcy. But others argue that BlackBerry’s 700,000 sales that missed out on the 900,000 target is a shortcoming, besides the fact that the figure is the total sales of the company, not the PRIV alone.
The sales of the PRIV are estimated to be 50,000 units at most, which by today’s flagship device standards is quite poor. Many folks point to its steep price of $700, but if its inaccessible price is the deciding factor then why did it sell out on Amazon within hours of release?
The answer lies in the consumers. We have only judged the one quarter’s worth of PRIV sales to judge its success, but only time will tell if it is successful. Unlike top brands such as Samsung and Apple, which are expected to reap the most sales in the immediate period following the launch of their flagships, the PRIV is arguably an innovative product that isn’t as established as its competitors. People know BlackBerry as a brand, but not as an Android brand. In this modern milieu BlackBerry might as well be as arcane and quaint as the typewriter.
BlackBerry PRIV marks the first attempt from BlackBerry to tread the Android landscape, so it falls way out of consumers’ frame of reference when considering the purchase of a new Android smartphone. For such a new and barely established product, you have different classes of consumers in the following order: innovators, early adopters, late adopters, and laggards.
The adoption cycle for the PRIV is shaped like a bell curve, so most of the purchases are going to come from early adopters and late adopters.
It is now at the innovators stage, which means that those who pursue it are most likely smartphone aficionados who want to always stay at the forefront of new offerings that everyone else is skeptical about. These are the folks that write reviews and are usually opinion leaders.
The early adopters and late adopters feed off the initial impression expressed by innovators, and so far, apart from the price plenty of reviews are giving the PRIV thumbs-ups. When BlackBerry lowers the price next February, we should see the early and late adopters make up for much more sales. It is only then that we can judge whether it is or isn’t a success.