BlackBerry launches Android smartphone
Canadian vendor relents, gives users access to Google Play, while adding stringent security features
BlackBerry launched its first Android smartphone over the weekend, in a bid to dilute its reliance on its own software platform.
The Priv will sell for an unsubsidised $700 (AED2,600), but exact pricing and availability for the Middle East market are unknown.
The Priv embraces some of the old and some of the new for its feature set. From the new it takes its 5.4-inch AMOLED curved capacitive touchscreen; from the old it takes a slide-out QUERTY keyboard, harkening back to the days of feature phones.
BlackBerry's share of the world smartphone market stands at under 1%. The gamble it takes with releasing an Android device, is that users base their decision on what smartphone to buy primarily on the supporting apps ecosystem the handset can offer. Android's Google Play supports the world's most installed mobile OS and may serve as a beacon for those that want an Android phone, but have concerns about privacy.
BlackBerry's preload suite will include DTEK, an app for monitoring apps. DTEK is the feature intended to make the Priv private, as it is designed to alert the user any time another app tries to access the handset's data, microphone or camera.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen has previously indicated that the company would withdraw from the hardware arena, releasing less handsets annually. But if the Priv charms users, the company still has the option to renew its devices business.