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Hoping a cheaper unsubsidized price will bring sales, BlackBerry to sell Passport for $599

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If you want to buy a square-screened smartphone for less that most competing flagship handsets, you’re in luck: The BlackBerry Passport is expected to start at $599 off-contract when it launches this week. That’s less expensive than the new Apple iPhone 6 base model which starts at $650 at full-price and rises by $100 for a larger display or more storage.

The move is meant to spark interest in the new [company]BlackBerry[/company]. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal on Monday, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said “I figure that to try to get the market interested, we’re going to start a little lower than that.”

Chen is spot-on in his assessment as there has been practically no interest in the company’s handsets of late. BlackBerry has watched its once dominant market share evaporate into vapor as phones running [company]Apple[/company] iOS, [company]Google[/company] Android and [company]Microsoft[/company] Windows Phone have taken over. BlackBerry released new phones in 2013 but those did little to change the company’s place in the smartphone market.

The new Passport has a unique display: It’s a 4.5-inch, high-resolution square screen that Chen thinks will be a difference-maker. The phone also has a hardware keyboard that supplements the touchscreen. Here’s an early video of the Passport to illustrate its distinct look:

While a relatively lower cost can only help the Passport, the real selling point will be the handset’s software, security and services. BlackBerry was once the de-facto standard for messaging and enterprise use. Other platforms have invaded that space over the past few years, however, so it’s not clear if the Passport will do much, if anything, to boost hardware sales for the company just yet.

4 Responses to “Hoping a cheaper unsubsidized price will bring sales, BlackBerry to sell Passport for $599”

  1. I sure hope Blackberry finds a way to sell this phone direct or through other channels as we all know that ATT, Verizon, Sprint and others will probably not carry the phone as they are so tied into Apple iOS sales quotas.

    I mean Verizon owes Apple $23 billion dollars a year in iOS sales, ATT owes Apple over $14 billion, Sprint owes $14 billion over a few years, and T-Mobile owes as well.

    You have to ask if it wasn’t for these sales quotas you would have to think that US cellular customers would have a lot more options for phone OS’s and that our cell phone bills would all be a lot lower without have to subsidize all those expensive iPhones.

  2. Reblogged this on Red Paint Blog and commented:
    My first thought when I saw the picture was “God, that is ugly.” Add in the fact that it’s square design will make it hard to stuff in your jeans pocket. From a usability perspective it would seem that having the keyboard scrunched down at the bottom would make it very hard to use since your hands are way down below the center of gravity. I’d constantly be afraid of it flipping out of my hands and landing on all that glass. Plus, do we really think many people are going to choose this over the i6 over a measly $50?