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BlackBerry sees upbeat future with Android

Posted: 12 Jan 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Blackberry  Android  operating system  BBOS 10  smartphone 

Blackberry is gaining considerable attention with its recently announced Android-based Priv-handset that packs the Android operating system rather than its own. CEO John Chen detailed his vision for the Canadian company, which could release one or two new devices this year, both running Google's Android platform.

CEO John Chen is charting a new course for the company and signaled what may be the end of its failed BBOS 10.

BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry released the Priv smartphone several months ago. (Image: BlackBerry)

It is a curious device in that it is the first from BlackBerry to run an operating system other than its own. The device relies on Android and boasts security and communication tools from BlackBerry to make it a more compelling option for business users. The Priv can be managed by BES just like a standard BlackBerry.

Apparently, this is what people want.

Sales of the Priv are "so far, so good," said Chen. "I'm taking a cautiously optimistic view."

The Priv is only available from AT&T, but that is about to change. The company will make the smartphone available through carriers Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in the weeks and months ahead. T-Mobile will begin selling the Priv Jan. 26, with Sprint and Verizon to follow in February or March.

Moreover, BlackBerry will push the Priv to 31 new countries over the next few quarters.

In other words, the Priv is doing well enough that it has set the stage for more Android-based smartphones. Chen says BlackBerry may turn a profit. Even so, the company plans to take it slow. Chen has said several times that he will drop the smartphone business entirely if the company can't make the unit profitable. The Priv will have to continue to sell well if BlackBerry is to make a second Android phone.

What is to become of BlackBerry OS 10?

Chen stopped short of saying the platform is entirely dead, but did note that the company would have to bring in a serious amount of cash from Priv sales if it is to ever make another BBOS handset. There will be no new BBOS phone this year, that much is certain. BlackBerry hasn't released a BBOS handset since late 2014. BlackBerry will continue to sell what stock it has left of the BlackBerry Classic, and will support older BBOS handsets, such as the Z10 and Q10.

BBOS 10 was developed under the leadership of former CEO Thorsten Heins.

Heins was kicked out in late 2013 after the platform failed to gain traction with business customers. Chen took Heins' place at that time and was quick to refocus the company on providing secure mobile communications and device management.

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