Less than four months ago, the folks at Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) were nervously anticipating the U.S. launch of their first BB10-enabled smartphone in the touchscreen-only BlackBerry Z10. Then, late last month, the company also launched its second BB10-enabled device in the U.S. with the physical keyboard-touting BlackBerry Q10.
With both devices originally priced at $199 with a two-year contract at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) or AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) — on par with the price of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s iPhone 5 smartphones — Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) bulls had hoped the new devices would serve as a solid starting point to help their stock regain at least some of its former glory in its well-publicized fight back to sustained profitability.
Unfortunately, shares of Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) suffered a one-day drop of more than 27% a few weeks ago, after the company posted dismal quarterly earnings, in which they announced that just 2.7 million of the 6.8 million total smartphone units shipped last quarter featured its BB10 operating system.
And though Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)’s CEO begged for patience at last week’s shareholder meeting, effectively telling analysts at the time that none of the metrics they’re using to gauge BlackBerry’s success actually show how it could create shareholder value over the long term, The Wall Street Journal this week astutely noticed that prices for the Z10 are already falling.
Sure enough, if you take a peek at your local Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) or AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) store, you’ll find the Z10’s contract price has just been cut in half to $99.
What’s more, consumers who take the time to look around will find that Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is now offering the Z10 with a two-year AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) contract for just a penny, and Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) is now willing to give it to you for free.
And while the Q10 still goes for $199 when purchased directly through Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), you can also pick it up from Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) with a Verizon contract for a mere $99.
For reference, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone 5, which was launched in September, 2012, is still $199 at all major carriers, and the older iPhone 4S, launched in October, 2011, still sells for $99. Then again, Apple’s even older iPhone 4, like the Z10, can be had for free with a contract through Verizon or AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), but that’s no surprise since the iPhone 4 was released more than three years ago — and remember, as I wrote back in April, around half of the 4 million iPhones Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) sold last quarter were either Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone 4 or 4S models.
Call me crazy, but that certainly doesn’t seem to bode well for those hoping Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)’s Z10 and Q10 sales would pick up going forward, especially considering Apple may be gearing up to roll out its next line of iDevices this fall, the plans for which could very well include a cheaper version of the iPhone to grab market share outside Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s existing wheelhouse in higher-end devices.