BlackBerry have been in the smartphone business for a long, long time. Early BlackBerry devices were not smartphones, as we consider them today. In fact, they did not have voice functionality until a few generations in, but quickly grew to become one of the must-have smartphones for businessmen and consumers alike. BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, was at one time a must-have application and was only supported on BlackBerry devices. However, the introduction of the Apple iPhone and Google Android devices ruined BlackBerry’s day and the business kept the antiquated JAVA-derived software going as it developed QNX into an operating system, which has become BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry 10 is a commendable operating system, but was released at least two years late into the smartphone party. Many believed that BlackBerry should work on releasing an Android device and finally in 2015 we have seen this, in the shape of the BlackBerry Priv. This device offers mid to high end hardware (highlights include a 5.4-inch QHD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 3 GB of RAM, an 18MP rear camera) running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, with Android 6.0 Marshmallow promised for 2016.
However, whilst the BlackBerry Priv is an interesting Android device, it is not BlackBerry’s new focus – although the company has explained that if it cannot make money selling smartphones, it will exit the business. Whilst the Priv is an important device, then, there is much more to BlackBerry than a new Android device. BlackBerry’s Chief Executive Officer, John Chen, explains: “We are still a $3 billion company and have over $3 billion in cash. We are pouring most of that into research and development.” The business aims to reach $500 million in software revenue by the end of March 2016 and has been on the acquisition trail, having recently spent $425 to buy Good Technology, a once-rival enterprise software security business. BlackBerry’s business focus remains the software side of things, where their years of expertise in mobile device security has already seen them working with Google. It is possible that Google and Android will cooperate following the release of the BlackBerry Priv and this could be good news for both businesses, and of course the whole Android ecosystem going forwards.
However, whilst the BlackBerry Priv is not a perfect device, it has caught the attention of technology reviewers all over the world. BlackBerry’s thoughtful additions to Android Lollipop have given the device some useful utility over and above a Nexus device, plus the elegant keyboard that slides down out of the device.