I want to root for the underdog – I want BlackBerry to return to prominence, I really do. But if I’m trying to be objective about the BlackBerry PRIV and its chances in the market amongst some of the other top-guns that it’ll be released alongside, I can’t imagine most modern consumers really wanting a device from the business-oriented smartphone maker. It might be great for a BlackBerry user from way back – even someone that’s been forced to use touchscreens for several years even though they prefer hardware keyboards. But for any iPhone or Android device consumer, the appeal may be lacking.
The newest video released by BlackBerry certainly makes the BlackBerry PRIV seem like an interesting device, if nothing else. The ability to use the keyboard as a touchpad, the wrap-around edges of the display, and the security features for workers – each of these are going to be great selling points for the device.
But BlackBerry is swimming upstream. There are bears. Bears that are going to eat BlackBerry’s PRIV before it gets to the spawning grounds.
One of BlackBerry’s strengths in the past was the idea that they controlled the hardware and the software. In this way, they were a top-to-bottom controller of their devices – or at least they appeared to be, which is most important.
SEE: Nexus 6P Review
People bought BlackBerry devices before they bought iPhones. If you wanted a cool smartphone that could browse the web and send emails and all sorts of cool stuff, you got a BlackBerry.
But then came Apple and Google’s Android, and there went the early adopter party. Then came the apps. Then came the appeal of having the new apps – which were always developed for iPhone or Android devices first.
Now comes BlackBerry with an Android device.
It’ll have access to all the apps you want. Its hardware will be made by the tried-and-true creators at BlackBerry.
But would I rather have this PRIV than a Nexus 6P? Not so much. If I’m going to be paying several hundred dollars for a smartphone, I’m going to get a device that was made by the company that’s also responsible for creating that device’s software.
This is an old way of thinking. Google has been distributing Android for many years – many big-name companies have prospered making Android devices. Google was the software maker and we all trusted hardware manufacturers to do the other part of the job better than Google could do it.
But the tide is turning. Now Google’s software experience is so expansive that its own Nexus line – a line originally intended for developers – is now robust enough to do battle with the most expensive phones on the market.
The Nexus 6P has a camera that’s arguably better than Apple’s newest iPhone and gets software updates from Google as fast as Apple sends out iOS.
How can the BlackBerry PRIV contend with the Nexus 6P?
It cant. And BlackBerry would be smart to avoid all comparisons between the two – and comparisons with most other Android devices, for that matter. Instead, BlackBerry’s best hope is in appealing to the select few users that want the BlackBerry experience with the added bonus of having access to most of the world’s most famous apps. That’s the bottom line.