Can BlackBerry's Android phone get anyone to listen? BlackBerry

Can BlackBerry's Android phone get anyone to listen?

After years of deriding the competition, BlackBerry's newest phone runs Android with a number of security-conscious features. Will that make a dent in a crowded market?

When I first started out as a reporter in 2007, one of my major beats was BlackBerry (then it was still Research in Motion). It was shortly after the iPhone had launched, and the company was at the peak of its power.

Talking to IT managers then, there was almost a unanimous opinion: BlackBerry was here to stay, because nothing could match it when it came to security. When I asked one device administrator what he would do if an employee brought in an iPhone and started using it for work, he said they would be fired on the spot.

It didn't quite turn out like that, but one thing was more or less right: BlackBerry security was and still is pretty much unbeatable in terms of how much control an employer can have.

After several failed attempts at re-inventing itself through its own platform (which is doing quite well in vehicles, though not yet driving a huge amount of revenue), BlackBerry has at least partially waived the white flag and embraced Android. The BlackBerry Priv is its first Android phone, and while previous versions of BlackBerry's own operating system could theoretically run Android applications, the experience was never great.

So now BlackBerry is hedging its bets again, continuing to offer its own platform via BlackBerry 10 phones as well as the new Priv phones.

The selling point is largely security, and the company is not positioning it as a make or break device, instead betting on a suite of management and security tools. But the success, or failure, of the PRIV could determine whether you can buy any BlackBerry-manufactured devices in the future. In the meantime, it appears BlackBerry is still focused on holding onto its bread-and-butter industries of government and very security-conscious corporations for as long as it can.

With PRIV, they might end up sticking around a little longer.

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