Blackberry’s Embrace of Android Likely the End for BB10

by Matt Klassen on September 29, 2015

While Blackberry CEO John Chen made attempts to deflect speculation that the company’s first Android-powered smartphone would be the end of its own in-house BB10 platform, I doubt I’m the only one who came away with the sense that the Priv phone was never intended to complement Blackberry’s mobile line-up, it was designed to replace it entirely.

Now granted Blackberry has been working on its cross-operating system BES12 platform, one that purportedly is able to seamlessly marry a multitude of operating systems into one cohesive unit, but the very fact that Blackberry has decided to move away from its own exclusive BB10 foundation is a clear sign that the company is testing the waters.

In fact, Chen all but acknowledged that if the Priv offers the same security and enterprise functionality its existing customers have come to know and love, he could definitely see a future where the company would consider replacing or merging its BB10 operations with Android.

While at the unveiling of the new Android-powered Priv phone, Chen did note that he expected it to operate alongside the company’s existing BB10 products, in a subsequent analyst conference call he was asked directly whether he would “throw in the towel” on Blackberry phones running the company’s own software. Notably he did not dismiss the notion. “That’s a good question,” he said.

So why is Blackberry possibly looking to do away with the operating system that helped it eek out a sizeable enterprise empire? The simple fact is that while its own branded software helped create the company, it has also helped destroy it, as Blackberry has watched as Android and iOS have gobbled up all of its once great market share. This embrace of Android, analysts argue, is nothing but the long overdue recognition that the age of in-house software is over, you’re either Android or you’re iOS, and the latter doesn’t like partners.

“Blackberry has finally recognized that they simply do not have a sufficient number of customers to make it worthwhile for developers to build apps for them,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.

Of course the only thing holding Blackberry back for a full-scale abandonment of its BB10 software is the fact that it does actually still have some dedicated clientele, particularly government and regulated business clients. Chen is hopefully, though, that an Android phone infused with Blackberry’s security protocols will be enough to port them over. Once that’s complete, it’ll be goodbye BB10.

“If our plan of doing the BlackBerry Android implementation works well and the security is accepted, of course we could replace or merge” the BlackBerry software side of the business, Chen said.

Now of course nothing comes easy for Blackberry these days, as even Chen’s initial demonstration of the Priv Android smartphone was embarrassingly flawed, so while the company’s embrace of Android may indeed spell the end of BB10, I would expect the death throes to be awkwardly drawn out for many more years to come.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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