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BlackBerry Ltd PRIV Success Can’t Be Counted (Or Counted on)

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BlackBerry Ltd , followed the rest of the market into the red on Monday as traders worried about the moves that Janet Yellen might make this week. The firm has, of course, its own problems at the same time. Nobody is certain of how many units of the PRIV it has so sold thus far, and much about the firm’s future rests on that simple number.

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Over at the Forbes Network contributor Ewan Spence questioned the progress of the PRIV. Though the device sold out in recent weeks, a fact widely publicized, there are still questions about how many of the devices were on shelves in the first place. That’s the number that the future of the Waterloo handset business will rest on.

BlackBerry can’t rely on the PRIV

It seems fairly clear that the PRIV isn’t going to save BlackBerry Ltd . John Chen says that the firm will need to keep the hardware division profitable in order to keep it open. Right now Android phone makers are unprofitable as a whole, and only Samsung, which dominates huge swathes of the market, is both large and able to make a consistent profit.

Mr. Spence summed up his thoughts on the firm’s prospects, saying, “Chen has no room for error in 2016, once he decides where to place BlackBerry’s limited resources they must deliver. The smartphone division needs to stop being a burden on the company and continue to promote the idea of BlackBerry as a hardware device while recreating the brand for a new generation.”

Meanwhile, many on Wall Street are still focused on the firm’s software business as the way out of the current BlackBerry Ltd fugue. Mark Sue of RBC has a price target of $8 on shares in the firm, and reckons that growth relies on a pivot toward software, rather than hardware.

BlackBerry will soon offer answers

Mr. Spence said that he found it a little negative that BlackBerry Ltd has not yet released any information about sales of its latest smart phone. In his view the firm would, under normal terms, release sales figures if they were good in order to increase demand for the device through some kind of halo effect.

BlackBerry won’t be able to keep those sales numbers quiet for very long, however. The firm’s earnings cycle is a little off kilter with the rest of Wall Street’s tech firms. We’re going to hear the firm’s full earnings numbers this week, on Friday December 18. It’s very likely that the firm will offer some kind of numerical indication of the success of the PRIV, though it may simply announce an overall handset sales figure.

At time of writing shares in BlackBerry Ltd were selling for 7.47, down 2.61 percent for the day’s trading so far. The firm’s stock has been selling in a wide range between $7 and $8 for quite a while, with a major interruption at the end of September. The wider stock market, measured by the S&P 500, was down 0.83 percent at time of writing.

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