BlackBerry Priv Will Be Company's First Android Smartphone - InformationWeek
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9/25/2015
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BlackBerry Priv Will Be Company's First Android Smartphone

Amid more losses, BlackBerry officially confirmed rumors that it's working on an Android-based smartphone. The Priv will be released later this year.

10 Best Smartphones, Wearables From IFA 2015
10 Best Smartphones, Wearables From IFA 2015
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Beleaguered smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry announced that it would produce a handset running Google's Android operating system.

BlackBerry expects the device -- a new flagship slider design called the Priv -- to be available late in the calendar year in major markets both in-store and online. The company will release further details in the coming weeks.

BlackBerry will also continue to develop and enhance the BlackBerry 10 operating system. The company is confirming plans to release platform updates focused on security and privacy enhancements, with version 10.3.3 scheduled to be available in March of next year.

Photos of an Android-based BlackBerry smartphone leaked in late August. They showed a handset with BlackBerry's logo sporting a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

(Image: Tinhte)

(Image: Tinhte)

There is also a roughly textured back battery cover and casing that could make the smartphone easier to hold, though whether this is the Priv or another as-yet unannounced smartphone offering remains to be seen.

The news came along with a disappointing second-quarter earnings report from the company that showed revenues from software and services down to $74 million for the latest quarter, compared with $137 million the company reported in the first quarter -- a drop of 47%.

With that as the background, BlackBerry announced its new path forward.

"Today, I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry's heritage and core mission of protecting our customers' privacy," BlackBerry CEO John Chen wrote in a Sept. 25 statement. "Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform. From these initiatives, we anticipate modest sequential revenue growth in each of the remaining quarters of fiscal 2016."

Growing Through Acquisitions

On Sept. 4, BlackBerry announced it had acquired security specialist Good Technology for $425 million. That news could help BlackBerry build on their enterprise mobility management (EMM) value-added services.

The hope is that Good Technology will bring additional capabilities to BlackBerry, including secure application management and containerization that protects end-user privacy. (The majority of its activations have come from Apple iOS devices.)

The transaction is expected to close toward the end of the company's 2016 fiscal third quarter.

BlackBerry also drew attention to its acquisition of AtHoc, a provider of secure and networked crisis communications, for $250 million.

AtHoc's platform alerts any device -- including iOS, Android, PC and Mac desktops, digital displays, radios, IP phones, and endpoints such as sirens, fire panels, and speakers -- during crucial emergencies, such as natural disasters.

[Can Android save BlackBerry? InformationWeek asks the question.]

The company will be part of BlackBerry's Internet of Things initiative. It is also involved with several government agencies.

"I am confident in our strategy and continued progress, highlighted by our fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year double digit growth in software licensing revenue and sixth consecutive quarter of positive free cash flow," Chen said.

"In order to expand our leadership in cross platform software and services, we are investing strategically -- organically through new products and services based on the BES platform, and through acquisitions like AtHoc and Good. At the same time, we are focused on making faster progress to achieve profitability in our handset business," Chen added.

By the end of 2014, BlackBerry's share of the global mobile operating system market stood at only 0.4%, according to an IDC report from February. That number represented a decline of nearly 70% from that of 2013.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
10/12/2015 | 6:07:28 AM
Re: Changing directions
"One is traction or market share. If the market is dominated by good options, it is very  hard to break in with a new option. It has to be vastly superior to the "good" choices already available and in people's hands."

Jagibbons, these options are with vendors and not with the end users.  Intel is doing the same; now they are offering Atom chip set to certain vendors like Asus, Acer etc at a highly subsidized rate to capture market.  End users have no choice in selecting either the chipset or OS in direct way. They are forcing to select from different offerings from vendors.
Gigi3
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0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
10/12/2015 | 6:03:39 AM
Re: Changing directions
"Those are huge market factors to overcome to break out a new product. It is possible, but not likely. It is also very expensive and relies a lot of other parties, like developers, over whom Blackberry has limited influence."

Jagibbons, you are right, it may be difficult. But the way Android captured market from iOS and Symbian can be possible with other open source OS also.
Gigi3
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0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
10/12/2015 | 5:59:44 AM
Re: Changing directions
"I haven't read much about Bada, but I know Samsung's first attempt at their own OS, Tizen, was a collosial failure. In my experience, it doesn't even work all that well on the smart TVs that run it."

Jagibbons, like Tizen, Bada is also developed by Samsung for Smartphones. But like Tizen, its also a failure. I heard that they are trying something with ubuntu too.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
10/8/2015 | 7:56:33 AM
Re: Changing directions
why they got failed?

Gigi3, there are multiple factors. One is traction or market share. If the market is dominated by good options, it is very  hard to break in with a new option. It has to be vastly superior to the "good" choices already available and in people's hands.

Another factor is the ecosystem. Quite simply, there are a huge number of apps for both Apple and Android platforms. If you come to the market with another OS that requires it's own apps, you need apps. Which means that you need developers to adopt your system and build the apps.

A third key factor comes down to basic marketing and advertising. Entrenched brands have an edge. In the USA, for example, a large part of the population refer to all bandages as "Band-Aids," which is a name brand. The same applies to Kleenex and even Coke to refer to any carbonated drink with a carmelized color.

Those are huge market factors to overcome to break out a new product. It is possible, but not likely. It is also very expensive and relies a lot of other parties, like developers, over whom Blackberry has limited influence.
jagibbons
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50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
10/8/2015 | 7:51:48 AM
Re: Changing directions
I haven't read much about Bada, but I know Samsung's first attempt at their own OS, Tizen, was a collosial failure. In my experience, it doesn't even work all that well on the smart TVs that run it.
Gigi3
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0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
10/8/2015 | 2:15:26 AM
Re: Changing directions
"Markets are is a big driver. In the past five or so years, several other mobile operating systems have tried to break in, and they all failed."

Jagibbons, have you ever analyzed; why they got failed? One among them is Android One, which is promoting by Android/Google consortium itself.
Gigi3
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0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
10/8/2015 | 2:05:46 AM
Re: Changing directions
"I don't think the BlackBerry OS can recover in the market that is completely dominated by Android and iOS. Tackling the security on the management side fills a gap for enterprises. That has always been Blackberry's strenth, and I believe they'd do well to focus all their efforts in that direction. MDM solutions vary widely. A focused effort could put BlackBerry in the driver's seat of that market."

Jagibbons, to an extend you are right about various OS and their market interventions. The same thing happen for Android One too, which is supported by Google and associates. So, I believe that if anyone is capable to deliver something superior than Android, they can sustain in market. Samsung is doing such trials with Bada and other native OS.
jagibbons
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50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
10/5/2015 | 7:15:00 AM
Re: Changing directions
Markets are is a big driver. In the past five or so years, several other mobile operating systems have tried to break in, and they all failed. While Windows is still around on some phones, they aren't selling well. The others have done far worse or were shelved before they even hit stores. I don't think the BlackBerry OS can recover in the market that is completely dominated by Android and iOS. Tackling the security on the management side fills a gap for enterprises. That has always been Blackberry's strenth, and I believe they'd do well to focus all their efforts in that direction. MDM solutions vary widely. A focused effort could put BlackBerry in the driver's seat of that market.
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
10/5/2015 | 3:32:19 AM
Re: Changing directions
"I feel Blackberry is "testing the waters" if this device brings in good sales they will go for Android devices going forward. At times I feel blackberry should not change their OS, they just have to think differently."

Shakeeb, I have the same thought. They have to try with their native OS and best in class BB security features; where Android is lagging.
Gigi3
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0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
10/5/2015 | 3:29:39 AM
Re: Changing directions
"I don't think BlackBerry can make a viable stand using their own OS. Taking their previously best-in-class security and management to Android is probably their best move."

Jagibbons, any particular reason? Is it because of their current market share; I believe they can 
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