first Android-powered smartphone. The switch to a new platform is never
easy, but BlackBerry has made the best of it. The Priv may succeed or
fail in the market, but either result will be a win by BlackBerry,
because it will tell the company which of the two OS paths it should
follow in 2016.
The question is not if Blackberry has a guaranteed win, it’s how much that win will be worth to the company.
The BlackBerry Priv (reviewed here on Forbes)
has many distinguishing features in hardware, but one of the most
telling differences is software. Running Android, it is a major
departure for BlackBerry. Until this handset was released, part of the
BlackBerry magic was in its bespoke operating systems. It provided a
secure platform to build the BBM messaging platform on, as well as many
security-focused features that made BlackBerry one of the smartest
choices for a smartphone in ‘sensitive’ locations.
BlackBerry’s market share has fallen in the face of the assault from
iOS to a certain extent, and from Android in a much larger sense. The
migration of developers to those two platforms, along with an increased
focus on third-party applications and web services as apps in general,
has left BlackBerry on the fringes of mainstream acceptance.
Should BlackBerry stay there with its own BB10 OS, or should it
embrace the wide base of Android as it moves forward? The Priv will
answer that, one way or another.
If Android proves to be the salve that many believe it will be for
the beleaguered Canadian manufacturer, then the way forward is clear.
Future BlackBerry handsets will be focussed on Android, BlackBerry’s
software team will concentrate on secure apps for the platform, and the
company can work on establishing itself as a strong niche player in
security-focussed messaging devices