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BlackBerry Torch Sells for ... What? Really?!?: Today's Outrage

The arrival of Research In Motion's BlackBerry Torch once again raises the question of whether it's worth rushing out and waiting in line for a new phone that's just been launched -- if the price will soon plummet.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The arrival of Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry Torch once again raises a significant question for the buyers of smartphones: Is it really worth saving up, rushing out and waiting in line for a new phone that's just been launched? Because do that, and these days, there's a high probability that you will, shortly thereafter, feel ripped off.

iPhone owners have felt this way before, watching the price of their iPhone plummet like a penny stock as


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launched the next generation version before the previous generation version even had a chance to go out of style.

Unless the customer was an MIT gadget geek with a trust fund who wouldn't have thought twice about paying a premium for a gadget with a built-in expiration date, quite a few iPhone owners may have been more than a little ticked off about having to feel bad for not waiting longer and buying the next generation phone instead -- or waiting longer before buying the older phone at a discount to the launch price.

More recently, customers who paid $199.99 at an


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store (AT&T is Torch's exclusive carrier) for Research In Motion's new touch-screen BlackBerry Torch with a slide-out keyboard and two-year contract -- launched on Aug. 12 -- may have been surprised, if not appalled, to find out about the much cheaper $99.99 Torch that


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has been offering.

There has been some confusion about when this discount began. Many media reports said that the Amazon discount came a few days after the phone was launched, but the

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reported that Amazon has been offering the Torch at this price since the phone came out.


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sell the Torch for $199.99, while


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offers the phone for $179.99 with a two-year contract.

According to a

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report, Amazon has been receiving commissions from wireless carriers, including AT&T, for selling their phone service plans -- and that has helped the online retailer offset low prices.

It seems, well, outrageous that certain phone companies have somehow managed to convince us to line up and pay full price for phones that are selling at a discount, possibly even as early as the same day of launch -- and even more outrageous if any of these companies knew about the discount all along.

If there's anything for consumers to learn from all this, it's that they might want to hold off on buying a new phone until they've done some proper investigative research. What's the harm in holding off for a while? It's not like those Blackberries are going stale.

And if there's anything for the smartphone providers to learn, it's this: Keep proving that the price points on your products are random and fleeting, and you might soon discover that your consumers will stop paying a premium for the privilege of feeling fleeced.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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