BlackBerry was long rumored to be planning to release an Android smartphone, and finally it has admitted this. But it does not mean everyone is on board with the plan, including CEO John Chen.
Michael Mauboussin: Here’s what active managers can do
Chen struggles with Priv
Chen provided a glimpse of the BlackBerry Priv, the first “true” Android smartphone from the Canadian firm, to the Business News Network recently. The CEO had a tough time trying to demo the device that runs Google’s Android. In a video, Chen is clearly seen struggling to figure out how the device is used, and there were a few hints of unresponsiveness with the touchscreen as well.
In Chen’s defense, it can be said that he is CEO of BlackBerry and not of an Android device maker such as Samsung, LG or Motorola. He does not seem to have much experience of using Android, and the little bit he has would have come from individual apps installed via BlackBerry 10’s Android runtime layer, says a report from SlashGear. Despite this, one would expect Chen, as CEO, should at least be familiar with the working of his next high-profile product, especially before making it official.
Will an Android handset save BlackBerry?
Adapting to the new phone will not be difficult for the long-time Android users, but as far as the hardware is concerned, there are a lot of better choices in the market. Long-time BlackBerry users might feel lost with the device, as has already been demonstrated by Chen (though unintentionally). The Canadian firm is introducing the Priv as a solution to the lack of apps in BB10, but it appears that it has been done at the expense of familiarity with the user interface, says the report.
For the BlackBerry Priv, the target now will be the niche market that uses BlackBerry’s enterprise services but wants to benefit from the quality of Android apps. Another niche market is of users who have grown up using cramped physical QWERTY keyboards on their phones. Whether or not the Android handset from BlackBerry will bring back BB users who fled in exodus will only be clear toward the year’s end.
On Friday, BlackBerry shares closed down 7.68% at $6.49. Year to date, the stock is up by over 41%, while in the last year, shares are down by almost 37%.