BlackBerry anticipates launching at least one—and possibly two—new smartphones for 2016, but neither of them will run the company’s own BlackBerry 10 software. Instead, CEO John Chen says the company will focus on producing new Android-based devices over the next 12 months, the BlackBerry chief told CNET during CES in Las Vegas.
After BlackBerry released its first Android phone—the Priv—in November, it seemed only a matter of time before the company would dump BlackBerry 10. However, Chen’s comments are not a death sentence for BlackBerry 10. Chen told CNET his hope is that quality Android phones like the Priv and the handsets coming in 2016 will raise the profile of the BlackBerry brand.
If that happens, BlackBerry may have a strong enough business to bet on a BlackBerry 10 handset once again.
The story behind the story: In October, Chen made it clear that 2016 would be a make or break year for BlackBerry’s handset business. If the company couldn’t make its handsets profitable again, Chen all but said that BlackBerry would get out of the smartphone business altogether. Another series of BlackBerry 10 handsets would almost certainly guarantee failure for BlackBerry. A line of Android smartphones combining the Google Play Store and BlackBerry’s secure apps, however, could be a big hit and put BlackBerry smartphones in the black once again.
While we wait for BlackBerry’s next Android effort, the Priv is about to get more exposure in the U.S. AT&T’s exclusive with the device is up and the rest of the big four carriers will soon carry the device. T-Mobile will carry the Priv starting January 26, Verizon is set to get it at the end of March, and Sprint has yet to announce a release date.