BlackBerry is now offering its BlackBerry Hub+ productivity suite, which is part of the company’s BlackBerry 10 operating system, as a 99 cents-a-month subscription offering to all users of smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
The BlackBerry Hub+ productivity suite is already part of the company’s Priv smartphones and will be featured on the company’s upcoming DTEK50 Android smartphone, which is scheduled to go on sale on Aug. 8.
The move aims to get some of BlackBerry’s most admired key applications in front of the eyes of more Android users so they can use some of the tools that make BlackBerry devices valuable to the company’s shrinking, yet dedicated audience, according to an Aug. 3 post on the Inside BlackBerry Blog.
“Just as we injected the hardened security of BlackBerry 10 into the secure Android platform running on Priv and the coming DTEK50, we’re bringing the super productivity suite known as BlackBerry Hub+ from BlackBerry 10 to, not just Priv or our coming DTEK50 smartphone, but ALL Android Marshmallow smartphones,” the company said in the post.
BlackBerry Hub+ for Android is “one of the most popular features of BlackBerry 10” and helps centralize all of a user’s communications into a single, unified interface, while also helping to streamline many other productivity tasks such as calendaring, passwords and more, according to the post.
Android users can download a free 30-day trial version of Hub+ from Google Play to take it for a test drive, according to BlackBerry. The trial includes a suite of applications, including the BlackBerry Hub, Calendar and Password Keeper. The Hub+ suite does not include the use of the BlackBerry virtual keyboard app. The suite can only be used with devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or higher.
After 30 days, users can continue using the apps for free by opting to view occasional ads or can subscribe to the entire suite of apps for 99 cents a month, which will also include additional contacts, tasks, device search, notes and launcher, which are already available to all BlackBerry 10, Priv and DTEK50 phone users.
BlackBerry said it is “looking to expand access to Hub+ to customers running Android 5.0 Lollipop” as well in the future and is also “investigating how best to deliver the BlackBerry experience on iOS devices, too.”
BlackBerry’s latest smartphone, the DTEK50, was unveiled in late July as a $299 ultra-high security touch-screen Android handset that doesn’t include the company’s iconic physical QWERTY keyboard, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Billed by the company as “the world’s most secure Android smartphone,” the DTEK50 is the vendor’s second Android phone, coming after the $649 Priv, which debuted in September 2015.
The DTEK50 features a 5.2-inch full HD display with a scratch- and smudge-resistant cover glass, a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor, an Adreno 405 graphics processor, 3GB of memory, 16GB of on-board flash storage, a microSD card slot for additional storage up to 2TB and a user-programmable convenience key. The consumer- and enterprise-aimed handset also includes a 13-megapixel rear-facing auto-focus main camera with HD video recording, an f2.0 lens and 4x digital zoom, an 8-megapixel fixed focus front-facing camera with 1080 HD video recording and image and video stabilization, and a 2,610mAh nonremovable lithium-ion battery with fast charging capabilities.
The DTEK50 is a 4G LTE GSM quad-band phone that also includes WiFi, Bluetooth and near-field communication connectivity options. The handset is 5.79 inches tall, 2.85 inches wide and 0.29 inches thick, and weighs 4.76 ounces.
While all of those features are nice, it’s the security features inside the device that BlackBerry hopes will make it stand out in a crowded smartphone marketplace that has seen the company’s worldwide market share fall to 0.2 percent in 2016 from 11 percent in 2012, according to recent figures from Gartner.
BlackBerry Hub+ Productivity Suite Now Available for Android Phones
The new DTEK50 includes built-in hardware security features like those in the earlier Priv, including encryption capabilities for all user and business information and data, according to BlackBerry. The handset also includes built-in malware protection as well as data backup, wipe and restore capabilities. Other included software allows users to control which apps get access to personal information or device features, such as the microphone or camera.
The smartphone lets users manage their security and privacy options and services through a special DTEK app that provides automatic monitoring of the operating system and apps so they know when their privacy could be at risk, according to BlackBerry.
In April, BlackBerry announced that it would launch two new lower-priced Android smartphone models later in 2016 in an effort to win back customers and increase sales after its flagship, high-end Android Priv phone failed to catch on with buyers as much as the company had hoped. The Priv, which BlackBerry targeted at enterprise customers, might have been priced too high at about $700 when it debuted in September 2015. Earlier in April, BlackBerry dropped the price of the Priv to $649 as it tried to increase sales of the device, which features both a touch screen and a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard.
BlackBerry’s fall from dominating the enterprise smartphone market has been swift and stunning. In early 2006, before Apple’s first iPhones appeared, half of all smartphones sold were BlackBerry models. By 2009, though, its share of the global smartphone market was down to 20 percent. The company continues to face growing competition from Apple, Samsung, Google and others.
The company has been having a tough time financially for some time. In late June, BlackBerry reported a net loss of $670 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2017, compared with a net loss of $238 million in the fourth quarter. The company’s GAAP revenue was $400 million, while its non-GAAP revenue was $424 million for the first quarter.