For years BlackBerry dominated the connected phone market with their devices that were originally focused on providing secure, mobile email to professionals, and they quickly adapted to expanding their offerings to wider audiences. Then came the iPhone and a year later, Android, which has since dominated smartphone market and is still currently the number one platform. This eventually caused BlackBerry to fall behind in the smartphone space, and their continuous reluctance to evolve has ultimately led them to the point they’re at now; losing profit and continuing to lose their customer base. This can change for BlackBerry though as they recently officially announced the coming of their first device powered by Google’s Android operating system, the BlackBerry PRIV, which is rumored to come touting some pretty decent specs and a sleek design while maintaining plenty of functionality.
For some, it’s too little too late as they have already moved onto another manufacturer and are now invested in what they have to offer. For others, BlackBerry’s dive into Android regardless of being late to the game has kept them open minded with high hopes the PRIV will be a device to contend with. Will the PRIV be sought after by many Android users and current BlackBerry users alike? Will it cause some BlackBerry users to switch platforms now that they can have the wealth of Android’s app ecosystem while still retaining the unparalleled security that they’ve only ever known from BlackBerry? That remains to be seen as the device is not yet available, although it is rumored to be launching sometime next month.
One fact is certain however, the PRIV will cause BlackBerry to sink or swim. If the PRIV does not do well, BlackBerry’s future will be even more bleak than it is now. BlackBerry CEO John Chen has stated that the PRIV needs to do well and the company will need to sell tons of units if they have any hope of continuing to manufacture hardware, so it’s hard not to think of the PRIV as a last ditch effort, a hail mary of sorts for the previous king of smart devices. If the company doesn’t make money from the PRIV by sometime next year, it’s possible they could exit manufacturing smartphones altogether and stick to software. Chen has also stated that he is fairly confident in the PRIV’s ability to entice buyers, as it’s now the best of both worlds for previous BlackBerry enthusiasts, with tons of available apps and the security that BlackBerry is famously known for.
Chen also believes that BlackBerry can turn things around and thanks to the upcoming PRIV, that they can be profitable again in two quarters, which puts them in the green sometime around the beginning of the Spring of next year if the PRIV turns out to be a wildly popular smartphone. If BlackBerry goes all in with this experience, there’s still a chance for them to come back as a great OEM with a popular offering, and if the PRIV is capable of this, there’s the possible and likely chance we’ll see more BlackBerry devices running Android in the future. That wouldn’t mean that BlackBerry OS would disappear completely, as BlackBerry seems intent on continuing to offer that option for those who remain loyal to the platform. However, that scenario may very well not be a reality if BlackBerry can’t use the PRIV to help their hardware offerings stay afloat.