Merchant Innovation

Blackberry Goes Android For New Smartphone

Amidst signs of weak growth, BlackBerry is stepping up its game with the launch of a new mobile phone powered by Android.

On a conference call, BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen said, the device, which has been named “Priv,” has been designed to protect user privacy and would come with a touchscreen and slide-out keyboard, and is expected to be launched later this year.

“What’s unique about our Android phone is that we are collaborating with Google to bring the best of BlackBerry security and productivity to the Android ecosystem,” he said.

The deviation from using its own home built BB10 operating system comes as the company struggles with slow sales of smartphones and its enterprise mobility management and secure communications software BES12.

For the last year, the Waterloo, Canada-based company has launched a series of smartphones designed for different consumer segments, like BlackBerry Passport, Z30, Classic, Leap and Porsche Design – many of which are revamped versions of old models.

However, despite seeing some growth and posting a profit of $51 million, in its latest quarter ending Aug. 29, the company has so far failed to win back its place in the global smartphone market.

In the second quarter, BlackBerry sales went down to 800,000 smartphones from 1.1 million reported in the first quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal.

BlackBerry’s software division did better in the second quarter with a $74 million revenue compared to $62 million reported a year ago. However, it saw a 46 percent decrease from the first quarter performance in which the company posted a $137 million revenue.

Despite the relatively poor performance in the second quarter, the company remains positive about earning modest revenue in fiscal year 2016. “I am confident in our strategy and continued progress,” Chen said, according to WSJ.

The company is reportedly aiming to raise its software and licensing revenue to $500 million next fiscal year. However, it might be looking at a tough road ahead with stiff competition for its BES12 platform from other products like AirWatch and MobileIron.

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