Geekzone: technology news, blogs, forums
Welcome Guest.
You haven't logged in yet. If you don't have an account you can register now.
An Android phone is not going to revive BlackBerry
Posted on 21-Oct-2015 07:13 by Bill Bennett | Tags Filed under: News

Blackberry canít sell phones using its own operating system. What makes it think moving to Android will change that?

Overseas media are gushing about a new phone from BlackBerry. Thatís something that hasnít happened for a decade.

The excitement is about the BlackBerry Priv. Itís an Android phone, but not another me-too device aiming to knock Samsung off its perch.

BlackBerry Priv is different. It has a touch-sensitive QWERTY keyboard that slides down from the case. It also uses BlackBerryís enterprise-grade software, security and the clever unified messaging hub.

These are features that once made BlackBerry the darling of business phone buyers everywhere.

Top-end smartphone specs

Otherwise the Priv boasts the usual top-end smart phone specs along with a 5.4 inch display that curves on both sides. Screen resolution is 1440 by 2560 pixels which means more than 500 pixels per inch resolution. The rear camera has an 18 megapixel sensor.

Priv also has a top-end price. The Carphone Warehouse in the UK is advertising the Priv for £580. That would make it around NZ$1275 at todayís exchange rate.

BlackBerry hopes overlaying BlackBerryness on top of an official Google supported version of Android is the secret sauce corporate phone buyers have waited for.

You say you want a revolution

Stand by for more disappointment. Although there is a loyal BlackBerry underground, it isnít about to start a revolution. The BlackBerry train left the station a long time ago.

It is possible ó thatís the strongest available adjective ó BlackBerry would have sold phones by the million if it had gone with Android two years ago.

That was when BlackBerry rebooted after being humiliated by Apple. A decade earlier it dominated smartphone sales. The iPhone swept it aside like a mosquito before a storm front.

Instead of picking Android, BlackBerry pinned its hopes on the BlackBerry 10 operating system. It was an idiosyncratic approach, having little in common with the user interface on iOS, Android or Windows Phone.

Idiosyncratic but practical

BlackBerry 10 was more secure than other smartphone operating systems and revolved around a message hub. It was streamlined for dealing with incoming calls, messages, mail and social media.

It also came with a full suite of enterprise software including tools for company techs to remote manage users phones. BlackBerry also had VPN authentication, a virtual Sim service and great tools for creating and securely managing documents.

Many CIOs and managers loved the business-oriented thinking behind the OS. Yet users never warmed to BB10. Part of the reason was that idiosyncratic user interface, switching from another phone OS was more jarring than usual.

Post-iPhone, the phone market is all about consumer satisfaction. If any user cares about productivity it comes a distant second behind photos, social media updates, music and entertainment.

The bring-your-own-device trend accelerated the drift away from BlackBerry. Organisations might fleet-purchase BlackBerry phones, but left to their own devices, workers would choose Apple or Samsung.

Blackberry? Meh

Nobody spending their own money seems to give a toss about the powerful business features packaged in a BlackBerry phone.

Conventional wisdom says the phone was unpopular with everyday users because of the lack of native apps. Many of the most popular apps never made it to Blackberry, nor did most of the less popular but essential niche apps. Your NZ bank doesnít have a BlackBerry app, nor will your favourite retailer or taxi company.

Blackberry came up with a clever workaround: Users can download and run Android apps on BB10. Many apps run on Blackberry thanks to clever patching, but compatibility is hit and miss. Moreover, some apps that once ran fine stopped running after later OS updates.

All the way

Now BlackBerry has gone all the way. Instead of a BlackBerry phone with BlackBerry software and the ability to run Google software, the Priv is a BlackBerry phone with Google software and BlackBerry extensions.

If you think BlackBerryís failure to capture user imagination is down to apps, then thereís a logic to making a phone able to run Android apps.

If only it were that simple.

Android bloodbath

The Android phone market is crowded and competitive. There are NZ$800 Android phones that look great and do 95 percent of what $1400 Android phones can do.

As a result almost no-one makes money from making Android phones. Android accounts for around 80 percent of all smartphone sales but less than 20 percent of smartphone profits.

The biggest and most successful Android phone maker is Samsung. Itís the brand BlackBerry will come up against most often as it tries to sell Android hardware to company accounts.

Yet Samsung licences some the technology BlackBerry says sets it apart from rivals in this market sector.

Deep pockets needed

Samsung, LG, HTC, Huawei and other Android phone makers spend a fortune on marketing. You need deep pockets to play that game. BlackBerry doesnít have much money left to splurge on advertising.

There are two possibilities here. One is that BlackBerry is dipping its toe in the Android pool to test wider acceptance of its technology for a different project.

The other possibility is that BlackBerry now has such low expectations that even selling a modest number of phones will feel like success.

BlackBerry has already dipped its software toe in the Android pool. Some of its software, messaging and enterprise tools are available as apps.

Showcasing its technology with the Priv may help with its already announced option of morphing into a phone software business. It may also package things nicely for a sale. No doubt BlackBerry owners would be delighted if it became an acquisition target.

There were reports in the US press that BlackBerry sold just 800,000 in the first quarter of this year. Thatís a tiny number for a phone maker in 2015. If the Priv manages to double or triple sales volumes, the brand may stumble on for a while longer.

According to a report in The Verge BlackBerry aims to sell five million handsets a year. While that would be a start, it isnít going to revive BlackBerry, at best it buys a little more time.

Filed under: Mobile, News, Telecommunications Tagged: Android, Blackberry, phone

comments powered by Disqus

Trending now »

Hot discussions in our forums right now:

The President Of The USA: Donald Trump
Created by TimA, last reply by MikeB4 on 21-Feb-2017 07:11 (3120 replies)
Pages... 206 207 208

Silly Cricket Scoring
Created by tdgeek, last reply by tdgeek on 21-Feb-2017 07:02 (45 replies)
Pages... 2 3

Shameful politics, shameless politicians
Created by Rikkitic, last reply by MikeAqua on 20-Feb-2017 14:12 (106 replies)
Pages... 6 7 8

Upgrade Home Wifi Network
Created by Dulouz, last reply by michaelmurfy on 19-Feb-2017 13:36 (14 replies)

Vodafone / SKY merger
Created by wingbat45, last reply by nas on 20-Feb-2017 21:56 (13 replies)

Asta la Vista, baby (Dotcom extradiction)
Created by sen8or, last reply by MikeB4 on 21-Feb-2017 07:37 (25 replies)
Pages... 2

Mortgage Rates - 2017 discussion
Created by lookout, last reply by joker97 on 20-Feb-2017 22:39 (22 replies)
Pages... 2

Any server room guys here? We're moving into one of your old buildings. What are these cables?
Created by b0rg, last reply by chevrolux on 20-Feb-2017 19:20 (11 replies)