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article imageBlackBerry CEO admits a smartphone pull-out may be on the cards

By James Walker     Oct 9, 2015 in Technology
The Android-powered BlackBerry Priv smartphone, set for release later this year, has a lot resting on its shoulders. Many have speculated that it will make or break BlackBerry's handset business and this week CEO John Chen hinted he thinks the same.
The troubled BlackBerry has been suffering from dramatically declining sales and serious financial issues as its smartphones fail to attract fans. Chen told the Code Mobile conference on Thursday: "Sometime next year we have to make our device business profitable, otherwise I have to rethink what I do there." He added that the release of any devices besides Priv in the next two years will be "dictated by business choices."
Chen appears to be confirming the thoughts of analysts over the past few weeks since BlackBerry officially unveiled its Android-powered Priv slider-phone. The general consensus is that Priv could be the device to revive the company. Alternatively, it will finally force BlackBerry's head underwater, steering the business to an entirely new path for the future.
Chen's acknowledgement that the company could be forced out of handset manufacturing, a market it dominated before the advent of touchscreens and smartphones, demonstrates he is at least accepting of BlackBerry's current position. The firm's last financial report revealed only 800,000 phones were sold during the past three months while Apple drew 13 million orders for its new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus in just two days.
The BlackBerry Priv, formerly known as "Venice" during development, is a high-end Android flagship that gives owners access to the vast shelves of apps in the Play Store while maintaining BlackBerry's key features. Its renowned security strength has been incorporated into Android to attract business users and the sliding QWERTY keyboard should make Priv one of the best handsets to type with while on the go.
With a gently curving touchscreen like that of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Priv also has the looks and quality it will need if it is to survive. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor and a virtually-untouched version of Android. The only additions look to be the bundling of key BlackBerry apps such as BBM and the inclusion of extra security protection.
Although the Priv looks good on paper, it remains to be seen how it will fare in the hands of reviewers and users. The only real time we've seen the phone in public is when John Chen himself gave a tour of some of its key features, although it wasn't exactly the most informing of videos. Suffice to say that Chen doesn't seem to be too hot on the handset's details, instead entrusting them to his engineers.
Priv is expected to go on sale sometime before the end of the year so we should be seeing a lot more of it over the coming weeks. With a stylish, secure and modern smartphone finally on the way, BlackBerry could be about to return for good. Alternatively, we may not be too far away from seeing the BlackBerry name vanish from handsets forever, a possibility now being publicly voiced by even the company's CEO.
More about Blackberry, blackberry venice, blackberry priv, John Chen, CEO
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