Last year, BlackBerry took a dramatic turn by launching its first Android phone, the Priv. A bold move indeed, but it’s unclear where the company’s commitment lies, and it continues to get bombarded with the same question at every press event … Is BlackBerry 10 (BB10) dead?
Unfortunately it appears that even BlackBerry doesn’t know the answer to that question, because the firm seems to be serving more waffles than I ate for breakfast this morning. Or maybe BlackBerry really does know the answer, but is afraid to admit it.
Last week, the company was in Delhi, India to launch the Priv, and the question came up yet again. Damian Tay, senior director, APAC product management at BlackBerry, was on hand and said, “The Priv device is essentially our transition to Android ecosystem. As we secure Android, over a period of time, we would not have two platforms, and may have only Android as a platform [for smartphones]”
He went on to say that current BB10 phones would continue to be offered because the software is more secure than Android. However, when the future was discussed, he said we should expect two more Android handsets this year. A newer BB10 phone was never mentioned.
BB10 is BlackBerry’s own software, which shares the same code as its own QNX auto platform. By contrast, Android is developed by Google, with manufacturers permitted to use it for their own use. According to Tay, the company sees Android as the future because of its app ecosystem. Not to mention that Android has a much wider audience worldwide.
Rewind to early January and CEO John Chen seemed to be more committed to Android, at least for now. He told Cnet that BlackBerry would offer possibly one or two more phones this year, and they would both run Android. However, he was still unwilling to say that the company would never release a BB10 phone. He indicated that if these newer Android phones were successful, it could enable a BB10 phone to be developed at some point in the future.
After the media declared BB10 dead, Chen followed up with a blog post a few days later to stress BlackBerry’s commitment to BB10 by announcing new security updates to the software. Although he did mention current phones, such as the Passport, that run BB10, he didn’t mention the possibility of a new BB10 phone for this year. However, he did reiterate that another Android-based phone would be coming soon.
So what does all of this mean? We can only speculate here, but reading between the lines, it doesn’t look like BlackBerry is committed to making any newer handsets with the BB10 software. However, since a few devices are based on the software and are still available for sale, the company is committed to updating BB10 rather than abandoning its current customer base.
BlackBerry obviously doesn’t want to upset the apple cart for its current base, but it also knows that it can’t continue to do the same thing over and over. That’s why the company turned to Android. which appears to be its only chance for success.
For now, Android is the future, but it’s never a good idea to say never. So if BlackBerry closed the door on BB10, it didn’t lock it.
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