BlackBerry is considering releasing an Android-based smartphone for the first time in an attempt to regain market share and promote its cross-platform BES12 device management system, according to Reuters. The report claims the embattled Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone maker will likely release an Android-based slider device with both a touchscreen and physical keyboard in the fall.
"BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen is banking on the company's new device management system, BES12, that allows corporate and government clients to not only manage BlackBerry devices on their internal networks, but also devices powered by Android, Apple's iOS platform and Microsoft Corp's Windows operating system."
BlackBerry, once a pioneer and market leader in the smartphone industry, has struggled to compete with the iPhone and several popular Android-based smartphones over the past eight years, and now has less than 1 percent market share among mobile operating systems. Comparatively, iOS and Android combined for 96.3% market share in the fourth quarter of 2014, while Windows Phone powered 3 percent of devices.
BlackBerry hopes to fill a niche in the smartphone market by releasing a device with both a large touchscreen and physical keyboard, aimed at customers that still prefer using the iconic BlackBerry keyboard but want access to the expansive Android app ecosystem. Nevertheless, the company ensures that the move to Android does not necessarily signal the end of the road for BlackBerry 10 devices.
"We don't comment on rumors and speculation, but we remain committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched," a BlackBerry spokesperson told Reuters. BlackBerry 10 software was released in January 2013 and powers devices such as the BlackBerry Z10, BlackBerry Q10, BlackBerry Passport, BlackBerry Z30 and BlackBerry Q5.