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Verizon rumored to launch prepaid BlackBerry

When Verizon Wireless announced monthly prepaid plans that mirrored their postpaid offerings, I wondered if they’d start to allow data services. Previously, this was not an option. Verizon prepaid ran voice and text, and that was it. But with the new plans looking so much like postpaid, it seemed like they had opened up an opportunity. As we learned yesterday, Verizon indeed plans to offer a prepaid BlackBerry. The service should launch within the next three months.

We’ve seen a number of prepaid BlackBerry offerings, and one downside afflicts them all: handset price. Because prepaid users, by definition, do not sign up for two-year commitments, carriers do not offer a large subsidy, as they do for postpaid subscribers. This leaves older BlackBerry models, like the Curve 8330, with a high price tag, usually between $250 and $400. If you could find a Curve 8330 on a postpaid plan (they’re mostly phased out), you could probably get it for next to nothing with a two-year agreement.

To that end, the current report is that “the phones [will] run somewhere between the subsidized price and the full retail cost. I imagine the Curve 8530 will be the main phone for the prepaid BlackBerry, since it’s new but simple. It sells on VZW’s website for $49.99 with a two-year contract and online discount, and retails for $359.99. The price for the handset should fall somewhere into that range, and the closer to $200 it gets the more people it will attract. I think this because the $199 price tag is common for other subsidized BlackBerry devices.

As for the data price, it will cost $35 per month, or $5 more than postpaid. This goes along with the $5 increase in voice/text plans. So for $10 per month more than what you’d pay on postpaid, you can have your BlackBerry contract-free. Does that sound like the type of trade-off you’d make?