AT&T Inc., the second-largest U.S. mobile-phone carrier, cut the price of the Research In Motion Ltd. BlackBerry Torch in half less than three months after it began selling the smartphone.
The carrier dropped the price to $99.99 with a two-year contract from the $199.99 it charged when it began selling the Torch on Aug. 12. AT&T faces competition from websites such as Amazon.com Inc., where the device sells for as little as 1 cent, and Wirefly.com, which prices it at $29.99. The sites previously offered the Torch for $99.99.
AT&T is adding phones, including three yesterday using Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone 7 software, to help reduce its reliance on its top-selling Apple Inc. iPhone. The Dallas-based carrier’s stores feature a separate section for the Torch.
The price cut doesn’t necessarily mean that RIM will get less money for each Torch it sells. Carriers typically subsidize the price of mobile phones to help lure customers into signing multiyear service contracts. The Torch is RIM’s first device to combine a touch screen with a full Qwerty keyboard.
“We are pleased with the business and consumer response to the Torch,” said Kate Tellier, a spokeswoman for AT&T, adding the carrier doesn’t provide specific sales figures. She said the price cut was promotional and declined to comment on prices available at other websites.
“The promotional price is obviously an amazing value and we think it will attract a lot of interest in retail channels,” Marisa Conway, a spokeswoman for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, said in an e-mail.
AT&T was unchanged at $29.18 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading and RIM fell $1.50, or 2.7 percent, to $55 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.