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BlackBerry Looks for Revival with Android Phone

Despite its continued woes, BlackBerry CEO John Chen is showing no signs of throwing in the towel as he continues to make acquisitions to shore up its position as a supplier of secure smartphones and device management infrastructure. However Chen apparently is finally backing away from the company's storied BlackBerry operating system, which has powered its flagship phones, and going in a different direction. The company today said it'll offer a new line of phones powered by Android.

BlackBerry announced the new Android-based Priv in its earnings release today. The Priv name underscores the company's heritage in protecting privacy. "Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform," Chen said in a statement included in the earnings release, which fell short of expectations.

Despite the shift to Android, Chen insisted BlackBerry remains committed to the company's latest operating system, BlackBerry 10. Chen also underscored the company's progress with its popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBR), including plans to offer new services based on the platform like  BBM Protected, BBM Meetings and BBM Money. The company also recently released BBM for Windows Phone.

As BlackBerry revenues continue to plummet ($490 million, down from $816 million during the same quarter a year ago), the company's $66 million loss was greater than expected. Chen emphasized on the earnings call the company is still "known as the leader in secure data with all the encryption technology," pointing to two key acquisitions to advance its position. First is the pending acquisition of Secusmart, a German provider of secure voice and text communication. The other is U.K.-based Morirtu, which provides virtual SIM cards that let users run both personal and business phone numbers on a single device, which can be iOS, Android or BlackBerry OS. The company also has agreed to acquire mobile device management supplier Good Technology for $425 million, as reported earlier this month.

By shifting to Android, BlackBerry could find an audience of customers who would never consider the Google mobile platform because of its known susceptibility to malware. But given the millions of apps that come with it, BlackBerry has a much larger task at hand.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/25/2015 at 12:05 PM


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