With less than 1% of the overall smartphone market share, it would be difficult for BlackBerry to lose any more ground. Having disastrously mis-categorised smartphones as a business product rather than mass consumer device at a pivotal point in their ascension, the company has been flailing for some time now. But whilst BlackBerry as a brand may be teetering, it’s not quite out for the count; this year, the Canadian company is bidding to claw back some of its lost ground with the help of Google’s Android Operating System.
At CES this January, BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed that the company plans to launch up to two phones this year, both of which will run on Android. The news follows the official launch of BlackBerry Priv – the first big Android powered BlackBerry release.
With a nod to the phone’s history as a C-Suite must have, Priv stands for privacy and privilege. It’s even got an endorsement from Summer of ‘69 Bryan Adams, because, as the official campaign tells us, “Privacy is sacred especially to rock stars.” As opposed to say, politicians or your average Tinder user.
Aside from the 50 Shades of Grey branding aesthetic and signature BlackBerry keyboard, the Priv bears all the hallmark specs for your average 2015 Android phone. It runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, and is packed with a Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. And of course, thanks to it’s new Android internals, that pesky scarcity of top-flight apps that dogged the BlackBerry 10 is a thing of the past, with the doors of the Play store now wide open.
Gordon Kelly comments that BlackBerry’s decision to turn to the Android side was, “exactly what Google needed: a phone designer brave enough to make something physically different and skilled enough to prove Android can have great security – when handled right.” However, without the resources to extend the BlackBerry Priv to all networks, the company has an uphill battle to win over the masses.
Whilst Android may rule its handsets for the foreseeable future, the core software isn’t quite dead. This year, BlackBerry is working to get national security certification for BlackBerry 10 for use of the devices can be used in government and corporate projects. That should be cheering news at least for all those BlackBerry loyalists (like Obama and… *crickets* *birds chirping* *the rumble of a distant thunderstorm*) who are losing out on the chance for a new BlackBerry software powered device in 2016.