Fans of BlackBerry in general might have rejoiced at how the Android-powered BlackBerry Priv might have helped put the company back on the smartphone map. But those who are strongly rooting for BlackBerry’s self-developed BlackBerry 10 OS might have mixed feelings. They may even have some hurt feelings now, after CEO John Chen revealed that the company might have a new, still unidentified device, and a new smartphone later this year and that both of them will use Android instead of its own BB10.
Of course, Chen hasn’t said anything in finality, so the future could still go differently. Those might just be two Android devices out of, say, a total of five for 2016. That said, this news only adds fodder to rumors, speculation, and sometimes even wishful thinking, of BlackBerry going Android all out.
For a long time now, BlackBerry has been relying on itself for the mobile platforms that run its devices. BlackBerry 10 is based on QNX, the Unix-based OS developed by its own subsidiary. Before the time of widespread apps, it might have been OK to have an island of your own. Users, however, started to feel the isolation when more and more apps popped up on Android and iOS, sometimes even on Windows Phone, but not on BB10.
BlackBerry’s band-aid solution was to add some level of support for installing and running Android apps on BB10. For some, that was an acceptable compromise. For others, and it seems for BlackBerry as well, it wasn’t enough to bring the company back to its glory days. Moving wholesale into Android might.
That said, Chen has been coy about the actual performance of the BlackBerry Priv in the market beyond vague statements of “good” and “cautiously optimistic”. Until then, we wouldn’t know the full effects of Android on BlackBerry’s margins. BlackBerry 10 might still have a future but the company is definitely being eerily silent about it.