Blackberry now a committed Android acolyte

by Matt Klassen on January 8, 2016

1297711648736_ORIGINALYou could say that the Blackberry Priv smartphone was a tentative step into the Android ecosystem for the once-dominant Waterloo company; a test of the waters by dipping its collective toes in just a bit. But it now looks like the company’s inhibitions regarding the little green droid have faded, and in 2016 Blackberry is looking to take the plunge, going all in with Android.

To that end, the mobile business solutions firm announced that it will indeed continue to release smartphones this year–although only one or two–and any and all mobile releases in 2016 will run Google’s mobile platform. The news comes as Blackberry has confirmed that all major U.S. carriers will now offer the Priv, a huge step forward for the company that has a mobile pariah only a year ago.

That said, I would guess that the news that Blackberry has gone Android is bittersweet for the company’s diminishing base of fiercely loyal fans, seeing the uniqueness of Blackberry’s mobile devices fade into the murky abyss of the Android Ocean; Google’s mobile platform having found yet another hopelessly dependent Android acolyte.

There is no question that 2016 stands as important year for Blackberry’s mobile division in many respects, given that the company has invested heavily in its own branded operating system that in turn has resulted in successive annual losses that in turn has left Blackberry mired at the bottom of the mobile heap. While the company’s flirtation with Android was expected to be temporary, it should really come as no surprise that Google’s platform has become, like it has for so many others, a lifeline for Blackberry, offering the promise of low-cost production, a familiar interface for users, and millions upon millions of apps.

Of course to access the Valhalla of the mobile world, all Blackberry will have to offer up is its soul, pledging its undying devotion to Android that will see, quite intentionally mind you, Blackberry likely become wholly dependent on the platform for any success in the mobile world.

Yet for Blackberry that success needs to come sooner rather than later, as Android stands as the company’s last chance for profitability. To that end, company CEO John Chen has pegged 2016 as a “make-it or break-it” year for Blackberry’s mobile efforts, hinting that if things don’t go well, the company may be out of the mobile business altogether come 2017.

As expected, Chen offered no timeline on the potential release for any new Android-powered mobile products, saying only that two months into sales of the Priv and things are “so far, so good,” Chen said. “I’m taking a cautiously optimistic view.” That means that company will attempt to generate continued optimism for its newest smartphone for several months at least, meaning late spring or early summer before we likely see anything further from the company.

But while the company’s commitment to Android may be disappointing for Blackberry’s own unique brand of committed disciples, perhaps there remains hope that should Android be able to help Blackberry recover its mobile brand, that Blackberry 10 may make a return, as Chen avoided saying the company was done with its own branded software, instead saying that although 2016 wouldn’t see any BB10 phones, the company would be working towards getting the platform its national security certification so its mobile products could be used in certain government and corporate projects, just in case there’s anything left of Blackberry’s mobile division when 2016 comes to close.

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

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