BlackBerry took a long time to reach the inevitable conclusion that has been almost unanimously vocalized by fans and critics alike over the last few years: Android is their only hope. This fall, that will materialize in the form of the BlackBerry Priv; a device that combines BlackBerry’s hardware with Google’s operating system. This week, CEO John Chen made it clear that this phone could very well decide the fate of BlackBerry in the mobile space. With BB10 devices struggling, Chen explained that unless his company can become profitable in the handset business by next year, they would seriously consider exiting it entirely. With no new BB10 devices on the horizon, that means the Priv has to perform well for the Canadian OEM to see 2017.
Chen’s candor is sincere but is bound to cast some doubts on consumers. Speaking at the Code/Mobile conference the CEO did not seem optimistic about BlackBerry’s in-house OS, citing poor hardware sales and overall disappointing performance beyond the business and security markets. Along with his seemingly final effort with the Priv, no one would blame you for staying clear of anything BlackBerry may be selling or have in the pipeline if support and updates are as questionable as the future of the company itself. This is even more apparent with BB10 powered hardware, as Chen alluded to dropping BB10 altogether if the Android handsets are a big enough success, and if their developers can successfully port all the security features of BB10 over.
Providing even more detail, Chen clarified a specific sales goal his company needs to meet in order to attain the desired level of profitability. The CEO pegged the number at five million handsets. That’s a lofty target following a recent quarter where BlackBerry managed to only sell 800,000 units. Still, combining its renowned quality hardware with Android’s popularity is the right move and could very well keep them alive. Worst case scenario, it will certainly help sell more phones than BlackBerry has managed as of late.
So what happens if the Priv fails and BlackBerry stops making hardware? We can only guess at the level of support the company will provide to sold hardware, but significant OS updates are doubtful. As far as the direction of the company itself, Chen stressed that BlackBerry’s core strength has always been software. With the purchase the rival company “Good Technology” for $425 million, BlackBerry will focus on entirely on corporate security and device management.
As someone that still has devices lying around with RIM logos on them, I would be very sad to see BlackBerry hardware vanish entirely. What about you? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on social media.Source: re/code