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Android & BlackBerry

BlackBerry in the process of launching two new Android-based handsets in 2016 though none running its BlackBerry 10 OS.

Blackberry may not have tasted success with its Priv handset running Android though a couple of more follow-up devices based on its take on the Google OS are in the pipeline, confirmed CEO John Chen in an interview with the Abu Dhabi-based The National.

Details aren’t plenty at the moment though what is known about the two handsets codenamed ‘Rome’ and ‘Hamburg’ is that one will come with a physical keyboard while the other will feature a full touchscreen.

A set of extremely blurry images but believed to be that of the upcoming BlackBerry handsets have also surfaced at BlackBerry Central founder Dylan Habkirk’s BBM channel.

Blackberry Hamburg (left) and Blackberry Rome (right)
Credit: DHabkirk’s BBM Channel

Chen further confirmed the two new mobiles will be aimed at the mid-range segment with a $400 price point mooted at the moment.

Priv happens to be the first handset from BlackBerry running a forked version of Android, featuring all the security paraphernalia that its traditional consumers expect out of BlackBerry. However, as Chen mentioned, the high price tag of the Priv led to its undoing, leading to less than expected sales in spite of there being enough demand for an Android handset from BlackBerry.

“A lot of enterprise customers have said to us, ‘I want to buy your phone, but $700 is a little too steep for me. I’m more interested in a $400 device,'” Chen said while speaking to The National.

Priv initially sold for $700 which has since been softened to around $649, though that still is being considered too high a price tag. Sales of BlackBerry handsets including Priv declined to 600,000 units in the last quarter, down from the 700,000 units sold in the previous quarter.

Also, the two new handsets could well be the last straw for Chen to keep his hardware dreams going as it’s almost certain for the Canadian company to hive off its hardware business if the two devices falter. Chen has set pretty modest sales target of 5 million units per year to break even.

“If I can’t make it profitable because the market won’t let me, then I’ll get out of the handset business. I love our handset business, but we need to make money,” Chen told The National.

However, notwithstanding its new found love for Android, BlackBerry has stated they will continue to support its BlackBerry 10 operating system even in the face of diminishing appeal for the platform. There will be no new BB10 handsets launched though which is understandable as the company is not in the position to divert scarce resources to develop hardware running an OS that has very few takers at the moment.

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