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Early BlackBerry Z10 price cuts could be ominous sign

BlackBerry Z10 Price Cut

UK’s leading mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse has cut the monthly package price of the BlackBerry Z10 from £36 to £29. That amounts to a £160 (or $240) price drop over the life of a 24-month contract. Vodafone is also now offering a package deal that is £72 cheaper than its previous one. The new monthly price for BlackBerry’s (BBRY) Z10 at Carphone Warehouse is on par with the monthly package for Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 4S, so it now sits squarely in the mid-range smartphone price bracket. The Z10 does retain a £29 upfront fee since it’s a new model; older handsets such as the iPhone 4S come free with a two-year deal.

This price cut does come very early in the phone life cycle — contract prices for the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S III sure didn’t drop just one month after they debuted. But interpreting operator and retailer price cuts is always tricky.

It is possible that Carphone Warehouse is gunning for market share and has opted to use the Z10 as one of its weapons. It is worth noting that Carphone Warehouse is now also offering a £21 monthly package for the Galaxy S III as a Web Exclusive. This, however, could be a price cut that is associated with the imminent announcement of the next Galaxy S iteration. The Z10 is a brand new model featuring a brand new OS with no successor in sight.

Carphone Warehouse does feature the Z10 on its front page among the four smartphones it deems to be “Bestselling Monthly Deals.” BlackBerry is the only brand outside Apple and Samsung (005930) to be included in this elite group of phones. The Z10’s early pricing was notably high, so it may be that retailers always planned a relatively early price cut after the early adopter rush subsided.

One last ominous note: on the widely followed British site that compiles statistics on most popular handsets in the UK, Sony’s (SNE) Xperia Z has surprisingly hit the No.1 position in the USwitch Mobile Tracker in March. Motorola’s new Milestone XT720 made its a debut at No.10.The Z10 does not appear anywhere on the chart.[bgr-post-bug]

After launching mobile game company SpringToys tragically early in 2000, Tero Kuittinen spent eight years doing equity research at firms including Alliance Capital and Opstock. He is currently an analyst and VP of North American sales at mobile diagnostics and expense management Alekstra, and has contributed to, Forbes and Business 2.0 Magazine in addition to BGR.