BlackBerry is an interesting business. The company is the grandfather of the modern smartphone industry, offering simple communication devices at the turn of the century, and over the following years selling a range of BlackBerry smartphones of many different shapes and sizes. However, the company did not respond to the threat of the Apple iPhone, perhaps dismissing the iPhone as something that would not catch on. At the time, the company continued to develop its legacy BlackBerry OS, which is based on Java. However, within BlackBerry, the company was changing and evolving. The company bought QNX and used this as the foundation for the BlackBerry 10 operating system. BlackBerry 10, or BB10, was a couple of years delayed but in most respects caught up or even overtook Apple iOS and Google’s Android at the time. Furthermore, BB10 ran on hardware that was (and remains) very similar to the comparable Android devices available at the time.
However, BlackBerry 10’s only significant weakness compared with Android and iOS is the lack of third party applications. BlackBerry encouraged developers to write native applications for BB10 but also developed and incorporated the means of running Android applications on the BlackBerry operating system. Whilst not all Android applications run on the BlackBerry 10 platform, this went some way to bridging the “application gap” between the different platforms. However, whilst BlackBerry 10 has its definite strengths it has continued to struggle and failed to capture the hearts and minds of consumers all over the world. Meanwhile, BlackBerry have been transforming their business into a software company that also happens to sell handsets. With this in mind, BlackBerry introduced their first Android-powered device, the BlackBerry Priv, which was launched at the end of 2015. The Priv is based around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chipset, backed up by 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of local storage plus a MicroSD card. The model has a 18MP rear camera, a high capacity battery, a high resolution 5.4-inch AMOLED panel and a hardened version of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, with the promise of Android 6.0 Marshmallow to follow soon.
As is common with other high end BlackBerry devices, the BlackBerry Priv is an expensive device. Canada’s carrier, Rogers, was originally selling the device at $399 on a two year contract but now the smartphone has been available for a few months it has announced a price drop by $100 to $299 on the same deal. For those customers looking to buy the device outright, it still remains $800.