More reports on: Telecom

BlackBerry to release first Android handset, BlackBerry Priv

25 September 2015

BlackBerry is gearing up to release Venice, its new slider phone which has a physical QWERTY keyboard, using Android OS.

According to a Bloomberg report, the handset to be called ''BlackBerry Priv'' would be powered by Android OS, rather than the BlackBerry 10 OS.

The BlackBerry Priv or BlackBerry Venice would be the first handset from the tech giant to run Google's Android OS.

Bloomberg quoted analyst, Daniel Chan from Scotia Capital that  BlackBerry needed to move away from BlackBerry 10 altogether and move to Android for its future devices.

Chan added Blackberry could save roughly $266 million yearly, in case it put an end to BlackBerry 10 OS. Chan believed the number could be achieved by firing a total of 1,400 employees that were part of the company's R&D wing.

Furthermore, with the switch to Android, BlackBerry would be able to pursue its ambitious goal of selling 10 million units every year.

The main advantage of switching to Android OS included the access to full range of Android apps for BlackBerry branded phones.

According to Chan, the current situation of waning sales could be attributed to the non-availability of Android apps for BlackBerry device users.

"While BB10, in our opinion, is technologically superior to many mobile platforms, it has failed to generate the recovery BlackBerry had hoped for and continues to be the primary source of losses for the company," Chan said in a research note published this week.

Moreover, a shift to this platform would allow new BlackBerry devices to have access to the full suite of Android apps, thereby resolving an issue that prompted many retail consumers to move to other phones in the first place. 

A more consumer-friendly phone would help the company achieve its goal of 10-million device sales, the analyst said. And given that this target represents less than 1 per cent of the Android market, the bar for success is low.

"There is an opportunity for BlackBerry to differentiate itself from many of the generic Android vendors by focusing on the enterprise market to easily achieve its 10-million unit goal," wrote Chan. "In addition to growing hardware revenue, we believe the adoption of Android would allow BlackBerry to significantly reduce costs in its Devices business and lower the breakeven revenue level."

However according to commentators, even as the switch to Androild is likely to broaden the appeal of BlackBerry devices to retail consumers, it ran the risk of alienating two of the firm's last bastions - government and corporate customers in regulated industries for whom security was of paramount importance.

"We believe the greatest risk to BlackBerry adopting Android is the stigma of insecurity that comes with the platform," acknowledged Chan.

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