BlackBerry has a reputation for developing really secure phones using its BB operating system, so when it announced that the Priv Slider would be running on Android, it threw the market for a bit of a loop.
BlackBerry’s Nader Henein, responsible for advanced security solution in the Advisory Division, speculated to htxt.africa that even though it is the company’s first Android phone, it probably won’t be its last – give the cost of the licence to use Android.
“It wouldn’t be a once-off (thing). [The license to use Android] is too expensive and it is a mass market product – it is for consumers, it is for enterprise, and is really for anyone who likes the keyboard and the versatility of the operating system,” he said.
He added that Google has been supportive of BlackBerry’s decision to release an Android phone, and it allowed them to make the OS as secure as any BlackBerry phone would be.
“I like the Android OS because it allows us to secure it properly,” he said. “It is an open OS and Google has been extremely supportive because they have been, whether rightfully or wrongfully, accused over the years of not putting in sufficient privacy and security controls, and getting BlackBerry to put their name and reputation behind that, is a massive step for the Android ecosystem.”
In terms of adapting Android to Blackberry devices, he explained that the company has added privacy features for individuals and security features for enterprise.
Has the move from BB10 to Android signalled a shift away from the Blackberry’s traditional OS? Possibly, but Henein was cautious about confirming this.
“I think it is just the next thing. A lot of times the evolutionary steps seems like shifts away from a more traditional or comfortable space, but nothing interesting happens inside your comfort zone,” he said. “Is Android out of our comfort zone? Sure, it is not our common space, but it is definitely something that we believe a lot of customers are going to look at and appreciate.”
Even though it (and future phones) runs on Android, Henein believes that users will still see the BlackBerry’s DNA throughout.
“It’s not just an Android device, it is an Android device with a beating BlackBerry heart beneath the surface.”
BlackBerry actually has a lot riding on the success of the Priv, as Henein quips that “you are only as good as your most recent product, which is very true in this industry.”
The Canadian-based company has been fairly stable and successful over the last couple of years, but on the consumer front the brand has definitely taken a dip in popularity.
At one stage, Blackberry was voted the best smartphone for the youth a number of years in a row. However, it barely features in any kind of poll now, BlackBerry is hoping to reclaim that throne.
Without grouping BlackBerry into that statement, Henein was quick to give the company pitch that the Priv is a “beautiful piece of hardware, and it has beautiful software on the inside.”
But then again, as he said, you are only as your latest phone.
“This is top of the line, where we are saying ‘look at what we can do’. Obviously with the success of this device, you’ll see a lot more coming.”
But BlackBerry has always had a bit of a knack for developing features that its users really enjoy, like the physical keyboard. It’s banking on that sort of creativity again to drive the success of its future devices.
“You can’t be everything for everyone, and you shouldn’t try to be – that is a recipe for failure,” said Henein. “You should try to focus on the target market, attack it and grow from there.”
Henein isn’t involved in the development of future BlackBerry models, and his comments on further Android-based BlackBerry smartphones are based on his own opinion.[Image – BlackBerry]