Why Did BlackBerry Ltd Never Release The Android-Powered Passport?

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The BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition running on Android has been a mystery, as it was teased but never released. But recently someone from Ontario listed an Android-powered Passport Silver Edition on Kijiji and was willing to sell the smartphone for just $260. The listing was later removed but again raises the question of why a device that was developed never made it to market. Mobile Syrup tries to answer that question.

BlackBerry’s “Avengers” program

Despite BB10’s weak app ecosystem, the Passport’s Hub functionality and 1:1 screen resolution made it interesting and unique. In one of the leaks, including the one which came from Evan Blass, the smartphone was code-named Oslo and was supposedly running on Android.

But in another leak, the exact same device was a BB10 smartphone called Dallas, which the Waterloo-based smartphone maker was planning to sell in markets outside of the U.S. and Canada exclusively. Also there were some leaks in which both code-names were used interchangeably, notes Mobile Syrup. The website shared information on “Avengers,” BlackBerry’s Android device development program, after talking to several sources familiar with the company’s product roadmap at that time.

“The codename was meant to encapsulate BlackBerry’s hopes for its first foray into Android: BB10 couldn’t be saved, but at least it could be avenged with the help of the world’s most popular mobile operating system,” said Mobile Syrup.

Why did Google, BlackBerry scuttle Oslo?

On page 35 of the most recent version of the Android Compatibility Certification Document, Google notes that all non-Watch Android devices must either have a 16:9 or 4:3 screen resolution. The Canadian firm and the search giant worked together to make important Google apps like Chrome and Gmail compatible with the Passport’s 1:1 display. Oslo was reportedly meant to be BlackBerry’s first Android release.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Mobile Syrup says the amount of time and effort required by both companies to make Google Play Services work at such a ratio for just one device did not seem worth it, so they decided to scuttle Oslo. Mobile Syrup was not certain if the Canadian firm had begun development of both Oslo and Dallas simultaneously, but they were sure that BB10 smartphones used U.S. city code-names, while all “Avengers” devices featured European code-names.

The Priv, which was BlackBerry’s first Android-powered device, was one of the handsets on the company’s Android product development roadmap. It was also known as Venice internally.

Photo by pestoverde

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