Android-powered BlackBerry Priv is set to launch later this year as CEO John Chen continues recovery plan
BlackBerry hopes the launch of Android-powered handset called the ‘Priv’ will aid the company’s return to growth as a significant fall in revenue contributed to a $66 million (£43.5m) adjusted loss in the second quarter of 2015.
The company actually made a profit of $51 million (£ during the three months leading up to August 30, but this included one off cash gains from restructuring. Revenues fell from $916 million last year to $450 million (£297m), with software and services accounting for 15 percent, hardware 41 percent and service access fees 43 percent.
Sales for 800,000 devices were recognised, down from 1.1 million quarter-on-quarter, and BlackBerry says it secured 2,400 new enterprise customers.
“I am confident in our strategy and continued progress, highlighted by our fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year double digit growth in software licensing revenue and sixth consecutive quarter of positive free cash flow,” he said.
“In order to expand our leadership in cross-platform software and services, we are investing strategically – organically through new products and services based on the BES platform, and through acquisitions like AtHoc and Good.
“At the same time, we are focused on making faster progress to achieve profitability in our handset business. Today, I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry’s heritage and core mission of protecting our customers’ privacy. Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform.”
The BlackBerry Priv will be released later this year and will be a ‘slider’ handset that offers the touch screen common on most smartphones on the market along with the keyboard that is valued by loyal customers. Such a device has long been rumoured, but official information is scarce. BlackBerry says more details will be revealed in the coming weeks.
The Canadian manufacturer says the Priv will offer a choice of operating systems, but maintains it is still firmly supportive of its own BlackBerry 10 platform, with version 10.3.3 scheduled for release in March.
BlackBerry 10 is compatible with Android applications, but the adoption of a rival OS is a sign the company believes it needs to do more to win over users.
At Mobile World Congress (MWC) earlier this year, Chen spoke of his desire for BlackBerry to manage “anything with an IP” and that he was hopeful for the company’s future following a disastrous few years which saw the firm toppled as the leader in the enterprise smartphone market.
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