Beleaguered BlackBerry considers Android phone

“BlackBerry is considering equipping an upcoming smartphone with Google Inc.’s Android software for the first time, an acknowledgement that its revamped line of devices has failed to win mass appeal, according to four sources familiar with the matter,” Euan Rocha reports for Reuters.

“The move would be an about-face for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company, which had shunned Android in a bet that its BlackBerry 10 line of phones would be able to claw back market share lost to Apple’s iPhone and a slew of devices powered by Android,” Rocha reports. “BlackBerry, which once dominated smartphone sales, now has a market share of less than 1 percent.”

“It is not clear whether a move to use Android would spell the end of the company’s BlackBerry 10 line of devices that were initially launched to much fanfare in early 2013,” Rocha reports. “The company, which at a 2011 peak employed 17,500 people and in February was down to 6,225, said last month that it was making further cuts on the device side, without providing any numbers.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Desperate times call for deliriously disconsolate measures, but this is least five years too late, DCW.

SIDAGTMBTTS.

20 Comments

  1. Why would producing a Blackberry Android phone claw back market share? How would it differentiate itself from the vast range of other Android phones available?

    The profit being made from Android phones is pretty small. It’s hard to see how investing money in order to get into a broadly unprofitable market is likely to improve the company’s viability.

    “It is not clear whether a move to use Android would spell the end of the company’s BlackBerry 10 line of devices” … I would guess that a move to Android would spell the end of the company, or at least sharply hasten it’s demise.

    1. Too late now but if they had done it when android first came out they could have remained relevant.
      The refusal to go touch screen was a big mistake.

      1. Blackberry selling an Android phone was an option that was often discussed many years ago and I argued against it for the same reason in those days too. I also used the same argument to support Microsoft’s decision to produce it’s own mobile operating system, rather than adopt Android.

        It’s all down to how do you differentiate your product from the others? Most Android manufacturers choose to differentiate by price, so we see low prices and razor thin margins. It’s hard to sell a product for a decent margin if comparable products are being sold for less.

        In the early days of Android, it might have seemed like a good idea to get a slice of the action, but several years down the line, it’s pretty obvious how the land lies in the Android world and any new entrant would need to have a genuinely compelling advantage over others in order to gain market share.

        We have already seen that big names have come and gone in the Android world, so trading on the BlackBerry name simply isn’t going to cut it.

        1. It is pretty obviously that Blackberry did not have the skill set to make their own mobile OS. Symbian was out of date and could not handle a touch OS.
          The only choice was for them to use Android. The differentiating factor would be that they had a lot of users who in the short term would have stayed with BB if a touch interface was available.
          To answer the security question below, BB could have created a secure system in Android in the same way they did for Symbian. It is lot easier than making a new OS from scratch.
          Most of the Android manufacturers go for volume. If a manufacturer went for quality and security then they may have created a niche for themselves that allow for higher margins to be produced.
          Just remember Apple bucks the trend for volume over quality and they are the best in the world. If BB had truly embraced the touch OS market they may have had a chance. But that is clearly now a good example how dominant players rest on their laurels and think their market is secure. In electronics you have to react quickly to the changing landscape or get left behind.

      2. I don’t think they had the option. The company’s main selling point was security. The agreement a company has to sign in order to use Android would have had BlackBerry installing all of the security holes Android has been famous for. Switching to Android would have killed them instantly. They just weren’t that desperate then.

            1. Some (like a good section of the commentors on MDN) would rather not have Google services on their smartphone. With the Blackphone you have the option to add them later if you wish via various apps.. With Blackphone 2 releasing next month sandboxing of ‘sections’ for enterprise, personal, guest, etc. will allow even greater security and provide more flexibility in ‘lending’ the use of your phone to someone temporarily.

            2. The Blackphone has a tinier marketshare than BBRY (which has a 0.3 to 0.4% global marketshare), why would they want to emulate this? They want a popular phone that has mass appeal for a change.

              Their marketshare is rapidly approaching zero, the only way they’ve been able to stay afloat is by firing most of there employees and by selling off assets (not handsets). My guess is that John Chen is just trying to “pretty-up” the company before he puts it on the block. The longer he waits, the less it will be worth.

            3. Their email system was pretty secure.. If they can get the best of their enterprise tech and the security of something like the Blackphone under their own fork, I think they may still have a chance with the business market. Or maybe work with Silent Circle to bring a unified product and service benefiting both companies.

  2. It really doesn’t take 6,225 people to design an Android phone, when three quarters of that design work has already been done for you by Google. Ask Meizu (or even lesser-known brands, such as BLU, or XGODY, or TH).

    About the only reason someone might want to buy an Android from BB rather than from LG, or Samsung, would be the brand name recognition. That can only help so much, though…

  3. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Right now BlackBerry is one fish in one pond. The pond is drying up and the fish is dying. Will BlackBerry be able to bring anything new to Android? Hardware keyboards failed in the Android world, and on the off chance they come up with something interesting (doubtful since they’ve already fired most of their talent), it will quickly be poached by manufacturers with no respect for IP and BBRY doesn’t have deep pockets to fund lawsuits.

    Google is working harder on security as is Samsung so security will be less of an incentive for buyers, especially if the agreement with Google prohibits BBRY from implementing their own scheme (which is inferior to Apple’s http://tinyurl.com/p64275d).

    BBRY, with its minuscule marketshare can’t benefit from high volume discounts on parts so their devices will be sold at a margin so slim that they’ll barely make any profit, or if they try to make a profit, the quality will suffer or their products will be undercut by the myriad of other Android manufacturers.

    I wouldn’t count on the BlackBerry name helping very much. Once it was synonymous with security but more recently it has become synonymous with repeated failures.

    One dying fish in a shrinking pond or a very small, sick fish in an ocean full of predators. Neither future looks promising.

  4. Not a chance!
    Only yesterday came across an advert in the Sunday paper for ‘the’ top-of-line Huawei phone with unlimited texts, 600 mins calls and 2 Gig of 4G data per month for no money down and £25 a month.
    They’re giving androids away here. Probably since the S6(not the Edge) has gone BOGOF already here in UK.
    Give it up Blackberry – you’re history…but you don’t know it.

  5. Woefully bad management. “We’re going to shut down our product that, despite having some unique capabilities (BBOS with BBS) didn’t sell well and instead focus on a product that will compete in a crowded market and have no unique capabilities. Yea, we’ve got a plan for success.”

    It seems what was left of the talent at Blackberry has left the building. Can we start a Blackberry implosion countdown?

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