BlackBerry confirms Android-powered Priv phone coming later this year

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

BlackBerry Confirms Android-Based Priv Smartphone.

As expected, the upcoming device will be called Priv—shortened from “privacy”—and features a screen that slopes down on either side (think Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge). “Today, I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry’s heritage and core mission of protecting our customers’ privacy,” CEO John Chen said in a statement. “Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform.” The announcement comes as no surprise, following a number of leaks, the most recent from Internet tipster @evleaks, who tweeted the “Priv” name on Thursday. Last month, Vietnam-based Ba Minh Duc posted to his Facebook page a device he claimed is the BlackBerry Priv; local news outlet Tinhte also showed more photos, highlighting the device’s rough backplate and slide-out keyboard.

The Canadian smartphone company reported $51 million (U.S.) of net income for the three months ended Aug. 29, which was an improvement on the net loss of $207 million (U.S.) a year ago, and positive cash flow. The company says it will continue to “develop and enhance the BlackBerry 10 operating system.” The next update for BB10 will be version 10.3.3 rolling out in March.

In fact, Chen admitted during a Friday earning call that he “jumped the gun” with today’s announcement, which was made because the phone was “leaking everywhere.” “We’re confirming the fact that we are bringing our security know-how to the Android ecosystem,” he said, adding that the company is working with major carriers to determine pricing and a distribution timeline. In today’s hectic world, where cyber threats are real for everyone, BlackBerry is making sure that our products invoke this mantra that your privacy is your privilege. But it fell short of adjusted expectations with a posted loss of $66 million (U.S.) or 13 cents per share — deeper than the nine cents per share that had been estimated. “I’m not satisfied (with) . . . where we are in the overall revenue and profitability, especially the performance of our handset business,” chief executive John Chen told analysts during a conference call on Friday. Fueling rumors of a possible Android device, BlackBerry recently announced a partnership with Google to “set new standards in enterprise mobile security for organizations deploying Android devices.” The companies are integrating BlackBerry’s BES12 security software with Google’s Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system and Google Play for Work. Current expectations are that Priv will have a slide-out keyboard, a 5.4-inch 2560-by-1440 resolution display, a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, 18-megapixel rear-facing camera, and 5MP on the front.

Despite calls from some analysts for BlackBerry to scrap its own operating system, the company said it doesn’t plan to make those sweeping changes — at least for now. “There is a very loyal base in BB10, especially the government, and some highly regulated industry customers, so we will have to see whether we can make money on that base,” Chen said. “If our plan of doing the BlackBerry-Android type of implementation works well, and the security side of the equation is well accepted by the government and this space, of course we could then replace or merge them.” Chen has focused on reworking the company’s priorities since he joined in November 2013, with tight cost management and cheaper smartphone production being two major priorities. Several months ago, the thinking was that BlackBerry wanted its own Android phone to show how BlackBerry’s enterprise servers can manage cross-platform devices. There will be a camp that reacts to this news with surprise, while others will see how, over the past two years, we’ve laid the groundwork to make this possible.

It began with honing in on our DNA of security, privacy and productivity, and then bringing that heritage and continued innovation to other operating systems. The sources both say hundreds of additional jobs have been quietly shed over the summer, affecting offices in Ottawa and BlackBerry headquarters in Waterloo, in particular. The company, which confirmed some job reductions earlier this summer but refused to disclose numbers, declined late Thursday to say how many jobs were part of more recent cuts. BlackBerry said it had 6,225 full-time global employees as of Feb. 28, its most recent filing with regulators, but those employee numbers are likely much lower after various other waves of cuts throughout its international operations this year.

And we are advancing our own platform, redefining the expectations of mobility in today’s age of risk and cybercrime so that we can serve customers even better. At the same time, I want to be clear: fans of BlackBerry’s workhorse BlackBerry 10 smartphones can continue to depend on us, and we appreciate their commitment. There is continued demand for our flagship BlackBerry 10 devices like BlackBerry Passport and Classic by consumers, enterprises and regulated industries. Combined with BlackBerry’s support of Android for Work on our BES12 platform, the new device will offer best-in-class security for enterprise customers.

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