What BlackBerry's Android Phone Could Mean for Its Hardware Business
As BlackBerry announces another disappointing quarter, the company is pinning some of its hopes on a future Android phone.Finally confirming rumors about BlackBerry's pending Android smartphone, the company announced on Sept. 24 that it will be selling a new privacy-targeted Android-equipped smartphone in the coming months as it works to reclaim some of its lost hardware market share. The new phone, called the Priv, is "named after BlackBerry's heritage and core mission of protecting our customers' privacy," CEO and Executive Chairman John Chen said during the company's second-quarter 2016 earnings call. "Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform." There have been rumors about a BlackBerry Android phone since June, when reports began circulating that the company would unveil an enterprise-aimed device with a sliding keyboard like some smartphones from the past. BlackBerry, which has stood fast with its own operating system for its products for years, is making a huge shift by releasing an Android phone, but it is in a position of having to try something new to remain relevant as a smartphone maker. Several IT analysts told eWEEK that the move is not completely unexpected, but that it marks what could be the end of the line for the company's hardware business in the future.
"BlackBerry is doing something Nokia briefly tried—switching to Android as an OS for its hardware," said Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis. "While the vertical QWERTY slider form factor is intriguing, this looks like the end of BlackBerry's long line of phones" as the company struggles to counter difficulties in getting developers to write apps for BlackBerry's OS10 devices. "If the foray into building fortified Android smartphones is not an immediate success, it is hard to see the company continuing to invest in building phones at all."