August 21, 2015
In mid-June, word surfaced that BlackBerry (BBRY) was considering developing an Android-based smartphone not only to expand its paltry share of the market but also to convince business customers that its BES 12 mobile device management (MDM) software works across multiple platforms.
Reports suggested that BlackBerry could elect to equip its upcoming “slider” phone, which the vendor showed off at Mobile World Congress last March, with the latest version of Android. The slider handset provides users with an option to use a physical keyboard along with its featured touch screen.
Now, new scuttlebutt has appeared that the mobile device maker will launch the BlackBerry Venice in November with all four major U.S. carriers selling the handset. According to reports, Venice will feature a sliding keyboard and will be BlackBerry’s first Android-based device.
But there’s a rub. It’s not clear at this point if the Venice handset will run Android or will be an official Android device, as ZDNet points out. If Venice is officially Android, as in running Google apps and services such as Maps, Google+ and Google Drive, BlackBerry will have to enter into a licensing deal with Google as do all its other handset OEMs. And, BlackBerry will have to agree to feature those apps on certain screens, as ZDNet reminds us.
Producing a device running Android would be for BlackBerry a stark, strategic departure from years of promoting its own operating system. But entering into a licensing deal with Google for apps and services amounts to another level of commitment to the Android platform and it’s not certain BlackBerry will be willing to take that step.
Right now, BlackBerry isn’t saying what their deal is with Venice. But if the reports about a November debut are correct, we’ll know soon enough.
BlackBerry chief executive John Chen has made no secret of his strategy “to build a business on putting [our software] on other people’s devices.” The linchpin of Chen’s plan involves convincing business and government customers to use the vendor’s BES 12 MDM system to oversee and secure smartphones and tablets running Android, iOS and Windows.
BlackBerry in June said it “remains committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched.”
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