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BlackBerry Torch now half price after ‘underwhelming’ sales

by Sarah Griffiths on 17 August 2010, 13:52

Tags: RIM (TSE:RIM)

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Burning ambition

The price of a BlackBerry Torch has been cut in half, just one week after its launch, while analysts have branded the handset's sales ‘disappointing'.

Amazon is reportedly selling the handset for $99.99, half its original price, with other sites following suit, as sales figures are sluggish according to Barron's. The reduced price is available as part of a 2 year contract with AT&T.

Unlike the launch of the iPhone 4 or other high profile smartphones which the Torch has been compared to, there were no queues snaking round the block for the latest BlackBerry handset, which comes with Research in Motion's (RIM) revamped operating system, BlackBerry 6, a touch screen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

Simona Jankowski, an analyst at Goldman Sachs described the public's response to the Torch as ‘underwhelming,' while Goldman has put a ‘Sell' rating on RIM according to Street Insider.

She reportedly said: "Almost all of the stores we called did not sell out of the device, which is in contrast to other high profile smartphone launches such as the iPhone, Droid X, and EVO. Our checks suggest the vast majority of Torch sales are driven by upgrades from existing BlackBerry subscribers."

The news the Torch is not setting the US alight will be a bitter blow to RIM, after many commentators have suggested its BlackBerry 6 operating system and new handset were critical in reaffirming its place in the smartphone market where an increasing amount of consumers are seduced by Apple and Android offerings.

According to Digital Daily, Citigroup's Jim Suva was also less than impressed with the Torch, citing a lack of queues and glut of product in stock.

He reportedly said: "While many may say the Torch launch should not be compared to an iPhone launch, we remind investors that the BlackBerry Storm launch (in November 2008) indeed had lines outside of many stores and many stores sold out on day one."

He attributed the relative lack of interest to the economic climate and flawed reputation of RIM's Storm handset as well as the fact RIM's bread and butter is business customers who are unlikely to camp to grab a new phone on the first day of launch.

Analysts at RBC Capital Markets estimated weekend sales following the Torch's launch topped 150,000 units, in stark comparison to the 1.7m iPhone 4s shifted within three days of its launch, The Wall Street Journal reported.

However, the Torch is only currently available in the US on a single carrier, AT&T, so it remains to be seen how well it does when it is rolled out internationally.