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article imageBlackBerry abandoning BB10, launching only Android this year

By James Walker     Jan 7, 2016 in Technology
BlackBerry has confirmed it intends to launch only Android smartphones this year, abandoning its own BlackBerry 10 operating system until at least 2017. The company had previously pledged to remain committed to the platform while building Android devices.
CNET reports BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed the change in plans during an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. He did not rule out BB10 returning in the future but announced a new focus on using Android in a bid to return the company to profitability during 2016.
BlackBerry's first Android device, the $699 Priv, has now been on sale for around two months. Initial reviews of the phone generally portrayed it as a competent first effort but riddled with flaws unacceptable for its high price, including a lacklustre camera and occasionally poor build quality. Chen did not comment on sales, instead saying he's taking a "cautiously optimistic view" and it's "so far, so good."
The CEO suggested launching more Android devices may be the only way to resurrect its brand, eventually allowing it to turn full-circle and resume production of BlackBerry 10 devices for its core fans. In the meantime, the company continues to develop the platform with new features aimed at enterprises. BlackBerry intends to get national security certification for the OS this year so the phones are approved for use by the U.S. government.
Existing devices including the BlackBerry Classic will remain on sale, giving fans some options when it comes to buying a new phone. Over the course of the next few months, these handsets will become even older than they already are though, causing BlackBerry 10 to stagnate without any new hardware launches to reignite interest.
Details of new BlackBerry Android phones are currently scarce. Chen refused to give any details on the when or what of its 2016 plans but current rumours suggest at least a Priv successor and a low-end alternative — possibly dropping the physical keyboard in favour of a lower price - should appear this year.
Chen's announcement came just hours after all the major U.S. network providers pledged support for the Priv. AT&T exclusively carried the phone for the first 60 days of its life but now the deal has expired Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have announced they will also be selling BlackBerry's first attempt on an Android flagship.
BlackBerry also confirmed it intends to increase the Priv's availability from four countries to 31 over the next few months. It intends to build between 700,000 and 800,000 devices each quarter and hopes to sell a total of five million units this year.
Chen has previously suggested BlackBerry may pull out of smartphones altogether if its Android phones fail to become popular, indicating the value he places on Google's established mobile platform.
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