The BlackBerry Priv is having a tough time in the United States, an AT&T executive who requested to remain anonymous, claims.
AT&T has been one of the historical allies of BlackBerry, which makes the news even more troublesome.
"The BlackBerry Priv is really struggling," the high-level executive underlines.
He adds that the numbers of Priv returns are mounting beyond expectations.
As a reminder, the BlackBerry Priv is the first smartphone of the company to run on Google's Android OS. At its launch, it was hoped that embedding the popular Android OS into the physical-keyboard-wearing Priv would turn the tide and stop the manufacturer's dwindling sales.
Earlier signs were not particularly encouraging.
Back in April, the company counted about 600,000 units sold during Q4. The number was 100,000 less than last year's fourth quarter. To put it in perspective, the company initially estimated sales to reach 850,000 Priv handsets during Q4.
AT&T's assessment of the situation explains why the Priv flopped.
First off, BlackBerry overestimated customers' eagerness to buy Android phones sporting physical keyboards. According to the executive, most people who bought the Priv were in fact BlackBerry fans. To them, transitioning from the BlackBerry OS to Android proved disastrous, setting the course for a high rate of return.
Another miscalculation, according to the AT&T exec, was the high price that BlackBerry put on its latest smartphone. An unlocked Priv cost $699, placing it over the premium-tier iPhone 6s, which asked customers to shell out $650. Samsung and Apple continue to be the main winners in the top-tier niche.
"There isn't much volume growth in the premium segment," the executive notes.
BlackBerry has seemed to be coming face to face with reality for some time now. In October last year, CEO John Chen affirmed that the company was considering abandoning its mobile business if it didn't turn a profit in 2016.
However, in January, Chen said that BlackBerry would launch one or two smartphones running on Android in 2016. This means the company has abandoned the idea of building devices that run on BlackBerry OS.
Considering that AT&T and BlackBerry's timelines are strongly intertwined, the information seems to stand. In the United States, AT&T was the first carrier to sell the Priv, and rivals T-Mobile and Verizon followed suit.