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BlackBerry Risks Its Future With Plans For An Android Smartphone

BlackBerry Risks Its Future With Plans For An Android Smartphone

Turns out that BlackBerry might have another idea for the second half of 2015 as well as ‘round down the corners of the BlackBerry Passport‘. The Canadian smartphone company is considering switching to Android for an upcoming smartphone to be launched later this year (reports Reuters and others).

The sources, who asked not to be named as they have not been authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the move to use Android is part of BlackBerry’s strategy to pivot to focus on software and device management. BlackBerry, which once dominated smartphone sales, now has a market share of less than 1 percent.

The assumption is that the ‘slider phone’ revealed in Barcelona at MWC 2015 will be the device running the operating system championed by Google. There’s no word if BlackBerry would go for the full Google Play enabled version of Android with support for all of Google’s apps, or whether it will use the Android Open Source Project as a base and create its own Android fork (as Nokia did, and Amazon continues to do).
The use of Android would be an acknowledgement that BlackBerry’s BB10 operating system is not fully fit for purpose, and that would mean much of the expense in terms of coding the system, marketing the benefits of an alternative platform, and outreach to developers will have to be put aside as a sunk cost. That’s not to say that BlackBerry’s version of Android would not feel like a BlackBerry device – the use of gestures instead of on-screen or hardware buttons will likely be one of the UI elements ported any BlackBerry/Android implementation.

BlackBerry’s key software elements, including BlackBerry Hub, will also need to be ported to run on Android, and it is worth noting that some elements (such as BlackBerry Messenger) have already been ported and are available on Android along with Windows Phone and iOS.
BB10 already supports the running of Android applications, although without Google Play certification developers and consumers are left to using alternative Android application stores (such as Amazon’s App Store) or distributing installation files to users. A Google Play certified BlackBerry device would have easy access to the full range of Android apps, but with strict requirements on the inclusion placement of Google apps, certification would limit BlackBerry’s ability to stand out through its software.

Next: The risks of a switch to Android…
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