BlackBerry’s Chen bullish on Priv momentum, hints all future devices will run Android

Ted Kritsonis

January 6, 2016 9:54pm

No new BlackBerry devices were unveiled at CES in Las Vegas this year, but CEO John Chen sounded bullish on the company’s prospects beyond selling smartphones, with the Internet of Things (IoT), health care and automotive critical to its success moving forward.

Chen did address hardware in a preamble before getting into some of the other things he wanted to talk about. The most notable piece of news is that the Priv, BlackBerry’s first and (currently) only Android-based smartphone, will be more widely available. AT&T had a 60-day exclusivity in the U.S. that just expired today, opening the way for Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile to sell the device, too.

All three are confirmed to be doing so, though Chen didn’t mention any dates because each of the carriers will be doing that on their own, he said. That gives BlackBerry all seven major carriers in North America for one device — something that hasn’t happened in years.

Short of calling the Priv a success, Chen was optimistic about the momentum the device could trigger. By adopting Android, he feels it solved the application gap users had been lamenting as more and more BlackBerry users jumped ship to Android and iOS.

“I’m trying to rebuild a business in an industry that’s very competitive, but we have a lot of know-how and concepts, and we know we can expand that consumer to be a professional consumer. It’s worth a shot and that’s why we did what we did with the Priv,” said Chen in his presentation.

If the sales volume picks up a bit with the Priv, and the company adds more channel partners, Chen figures BlackBerry could make money again on the device side. More third-party accessories are set to be announced, likely at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, including whatever it has in store for Priv owners updating to Marshmallow later in Q1.

It appears Chen has no plans to hand a death sentence to BB10, but didn’t fully rule it out, either. When asked whether it makes sense to focus on both BB10 and Android, he said he was focused on “solving the issue of the business being a viable business,” which the Priv makes a strong case for. “It’s too early to outline that plan,” he said. Chen confirmed to CNET and MobileSyrup independently that at least one, and perhaps two, more devices will be released this year running Android, but there are no plans for additional BlackBerry 10 handsets at this point.

“I want to focus on making money first, then worry about how many devices to sell,” he said. “We’re at 700,000-800,000 units per quarter, and last quarter was better, despite the Priv having only been sold in four countries. A rollout to 31 more countries for Priv is coming in upcoming quarters, and gives us a reasonable shot to get to the goal of moving five million units.”

QNX and automotive

Chen handed off the automotive portion of the presentation to Derek Kuhn, director of global sales at QNX, who noted that its technology is now in over 60 million vehicles on the road today. The main part of the announcement refers to the self-driving platform the company is putting together.

It’s made up of three elements that include advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications. Coupled with the infotainment already in the vehicle, BlackBerry refers to this as a “glass cockpit” that can all be managed through voice.

Kuhn focused primarily on security within the context of ADAS, suggesting that BlackBerry’s pedigree in that regard will serve the auto industry well as it navigates such murky territory. I will get the chance to see demos of what he’s referring to when visiting the BlackBerry/QNX booth to find out more about the practical implications.

“Whether the car is watching how you drive or is driving for you, we’ve anticipated it and are working to get all those certifications into the automotive space, and that’s really what the ADAS platform is all about,” said Kuhn.

More on this story and some of QNX’s latest technology when we see some of it in a concept vehicle tomorrow.

  • Wilhelm

    So Chen is basically admitting that BB10 is dead even though he hasn’t the gonads to just come out and say it. He’s also quite coy about the success of Priv by qualifying his remarks on its success to date or how it’ll play out in the coming months. By all accounts it could also be a major flop which is more likely than not.

    What a hoser

    • Go figure another personal insult from the troll to BlackBerry and same predictions of a flop but company is still alive, boo hoo!

    • Wilhelm

      Nope. Just the truth you can’t face. It’s no secret I can’t stand this guy and believe he is the wrong person heading this operation. Don’t expect me to heap praise when it’s not deserved

    • So we resort to name calling now when we don’t like people. Make sure everyone else shares your hate. Wow and you tell me to grow up. Words from the horses mouth he’s a bully

    • Wilhelm

      Ooooo… Hoser. Such a baaaad name to refer to the guy when the truth is that he is one. Just like Heins, Lazaridis and Balsillie before him.

      You keep trying to change the channel and that’s pathetic. This isn’t about insults as much as it’s about incompetence

    • I think I was 19 was the last time I called a person a name to win an argument! Yeah exactly! Night Troll!

    • Wilhelm

      You haven’t won an argument here yet. You just count on post deletions to gain whatever upper hand you think you’re getting.

    • lewdvig

      Predict a flop? LOL, it’s pretty much flopped, as in past tense.

      Good hw and sw, but lost the plot with the previous regime. Not much Chen could have done to fix things, but I would still rate him a C+ because his verbosity has confused inventors and consumers. He thinks he is Steve Jobs or something.

  • They will still make BB10 devices but mass production will most likely be BlacckBerry Android Devices

    • Wilhelm

      BB10 is finished buddy. It’s been finished for 5 years. Better get used to it

    • Striker67

      BB10 may be done as inthink BB will put more of the BB10 features into their Android implementation, but it wasnt even around 5 years ago.

    • Wilhelm

      BB10 goes back to 2011

    • Do your homework before opening your mouth that has no real facts attached to it. The Z10 was the very first BB10 phone released on January 30th, 2013. Try again.

      bbref . ca/z10 this is my site with complete history of BlackBerry on it!

    • Wilhelm

      Heinz released the BB 10 platform in May, 2012 so I was off by a year. lol Woohoo…Big deal. Is that really the point here? Because its based on QNX one could say it goes back to 2010 when this company bought them out.

    • he released it did he, for what device??

      en . wikipedia . org / wiki/BlackBerry_10

      go read its on the damn wiki November 2012 was announced for a January 2013 launch.

      Man you cant even admit when facts prove you wrong!!

    • Wilhelm

      From Wikipedia you buffoon….

      “On 1 May 2012, Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry officially unveiled the BlackBerry 10 platform. The features shown off at the BlackBerry World conference included a unique platform-wide flow interface, a new intelligent keyboard, as well as a camera app which allows the user to time-adjust the whole photo and also time-adjust individual faces one at a time to optimize picture quality. The user interface also includes the ability to run 8 “Active Frames”. BlackBerry Passport can run 16 apps as “Active Frames”. BlackBerry multitasks in real time. Active Frames are applications that are currently running within the operating system, but minimized. These applications can either be running or paused while in “Active Frames” to help with battery longevity. Some are capable of showing a feed of live information on the home screen.[9] The operating system also features the ‘Hub’, a message centre accessible from anywhere in the OS where all notifications including emails, social networking notifications, text messages, and other notifications are displayed and are actionable.”

    • quote “Heinz released the BB 10 platform in May, 2012” you do know the difference between released and announced right?

      You just proved yourself wrong again. LOL you cant win one can you even against yourself! and who cares when it was released if a user could not use it till it was on an actual handset!

      Sorry Troll, not this time!

    • Wilhelm

      Who cares when it was ‘released’ or ‘announced’ lol It’s the same difference. The OS was around sooner than your release date even if the hardware didn’t come out for another half year later.

      You’re grasping at straws again. Either was it’s a shjt OS and that’s the bottom line.

    • The point is, and you just made it, you just shoot garbage out of your mouth with no recourse for facts and proper and you wonder why no one cares what you think LOL

    • Wilhelm

      LOL You really are a sad individual. You’re more interested in semantics than facts and that’s why you lose every argument out here. But hey….you ‘enjoy this stuff’ right?

    • Caspan

      Love it,schooling people like you is funny to watch them try and prove point in a subject matter they have no clue about other then what they listen to on the News. What’s the word you you use flop around like a dead fish?

    • Demus

      Released =/= Announced. It’s that simple

    • Exactly!

    • Politically Incorrect Liberal

      But will android ever be as secure as bb10

    • Longtin

      With Marshmallow 6.0 Update yes it will.

    • Cataleap

      No… Marshmallow just allows the user to weakly control what each app has access to. Google can still very easily access your information.

    • Longtin

      Google and Apple will always be able to access your information. Do you really think Blackberry is any different? – The writers and some developers have explained to me that they are not safer in any way. They are the same. Even iPhones have the same FIPS 140-2 encryption. Especially if you encrypt your android device. And again with a little bit of common sense it’s the user that usually ends up messing up and giving away there passwords or downloading files from the browser or email attachments.

    • downhilldude

      I think you are taking liberties with the definition of “mass”…

  • Therese Synnett

    Can’t we have a smart phone with dual operating systems; android and BB10 and we can switch from one to another as we wish.

    • hoo dat

      Apparently Google won’t allow it but it’s an idea that appeals to me too.

    • Roger

      I like the idea, but that would require either rebooting to switch between different OS’s, or really high-spec hardware to run two at the same time for faster switching. Which, in turn make the phone well over $1000 without subsidy.

    • I think they should make it the users choice, you turn on the device and first option is what OS do you want to run on this OS. you make a choice and the phone installs that OS and removes the other one. This way a business could chose BB10 OS or Android depending what they like. You would use BlackBerry Link to install the other OS if you really wanted to switch after but it would require formatting the device to new obviously

      I would really like to see full android with BB10 running as a virtual OS on top of it. You would have Android for Personal BB10 for Work. You flick your wrist and the phone screen would virtually flip to the back side of the screen reveling the other OS. I think this solution would be slick!

    • Roger

      That would be amazing; however, the phone would need at least 64GB and run top-end CPU along with 6+GB of RAM. That would translate into something like $1700-$2000 phone. Maybe years down the road when components become cheaper?

    • maybe, they could strip BB10 down to run on less if it was only a companion OS I think. They did it with Android run time and that was on mediocre specs. If you take something like the Priv specs I wonder how crappy it would run?

    • Wilhelm

      The entire unit is crappy. What’s the difference

    • Cataleap

      With an 808 and three gigs of RAM, I beg to differ. It is a very capable phone, with a good OS.

    • boyo

      You need a life.
      I have had 2 iPhones in the past; a “3G” and “3GS”. The “3GS” froze.
      I took it down to the Apple store and they had to do a hard reboot. I lost thousands of pictures, and all my important information that could not be replaced. There was no micro SD card back-up.
      As a result, I switched to Samsung. Initially, I had purchased a Samsung “SIIX” and then an “S4”. The “SIIX” froze and I lost what was not stored onto the micro SD card. The “S4” was okay, but it was hard on the battery. I gave the “S4” to my sister as she was planning to buy a new one. She is happy with it.
      After speaking with a friend of mine who has a BlackBerry “Z30” and was happy with it, I bought one.
      Then I bought the “Passport”.
      Now I have the “Priv”.
      Also, I have a BlackBerry ” PlayBook” with a SIM card slot.
      As I have tried the other two brands, and with losing all, or most of my information, I can say that I have not had any problems with my BlackBerry devices.
      Cell phones are a personal choice, and it is good that consumers have so many choices. It would be a boring world without such choices.
      As for me, I am sticking with BlackBerry as they have been reliable.

    • Wilhelm

      Playbook? Wow what a dinosaur you are. Takes s lot to admit that.
      Here’s s thought. Get s proper camera with an SD card option and load into the any number of computers, Apple included, that support it.

  • Jerid Elzinga

    I was really looking forward to a new BB10 device this year :C

    • hoo dat

      The best you can expect in the first quarter this year is 10.3.3 and possibly 10.3.4 by year’s end. BB has committed to keep the current OS up to date but if you run Android apps there will be no further Runtime updates, not from BB at least. Keep your eyes peeled though as there are a few devs working on a stand alone runtime app similar to one developed by Jolla and installed on their Sailfish OS devices.

    • lewdvig

      Did you buy the last one? No one else did either, therefore should be no surprise there isn’t one coming.

  • Longtin

    Just too overpriced, no one is really interested in it, especially when there’s equal value or slightly better for half the price on a 2yr Term. Why would someone pay more for the same? Just because you have a “Blackberry” Brand on it. Sigh… When will Chen learn.

    • Wilhelm

      He’ll never learn. That much is obvious.

    • Columbo

      How many posts do you have in this thread? 30 or something? ROFL

    • Wilhelm

      lol…What about Caspan? He must have about the same so why are you addressing your comments to me only?

    • hahaha because you’re a troll!

    • Wilhelm

      And yet here you are. Still replying. lol

    • Yep because it’s fun tearing your comments apart to have nthing more then opinions.

      Trolls need to be dealt with!

    • The phone has come down in price to $800 on most carriers the $1000 was of course during the soft launch now that more and more carries want to carry this device the price has dropped

    • Longtin

      My carrier want’s to stop selling it. Weird.

    • I find that even within the same company for example Rogers very different opinions from store to store. I like in Kitchener/Waterloo are so obviously my reports might be different then elsewhere but I would ask stores curiously if they are selling and places like phone booth they were not selling but big carriers like Rogers, Telus, Bell they couldn’t keep them in stock but hte Phone booth sells the same carriers devices. Makes no sense. It would be nice to see the numbers but BlackBerry has never separated out the numbers. Unless they blow their own minds with the numbers will they brag about it to the world.

  • lewdvig

    Chen gets paid $90m/year. Tim Cook makes $10m/year. That tells you everything you need to know about how screwed up BB is. I wish they would just croak and free up all those bright people to go make something else. There are tons of cool ideas in the Waterloo area.

    • He does not get paid 90m a year, 95% of that was in stock bonus for reaching goals that the company set and he achieved and he opted out of getting a standard bonus.

    • Wilhelm

      You seem to forget that at a minimum the Chinese buffoon will walk away with upwards to $90 million no matter how he performs between now and the expiration of those options and his contract in 3 years time.
      He’s not walking away here empty handed no matter what. Just like his predecessor who cashed out nearly $60 million. BB has a history of lining the pockets of its insiders but has never paid one red cent in dividends to shareholders. It’s disgusting and indefensible

    • go do your homework again. 2014 He only got the stocks because he hit certain thresholds so he earned it and the board approved it. He even waved bonuses. not his fault he did exactly what the board asked him to do!

    • Wilhelm

      What thresholds were that? Losing more money and seeing market share continue to decline?? LOL. You really are the same piece of work as the board. Full of îdiots that got this company into trouble the first time.

    • Go do your homework, not doing it for you! Go google takes shorter time then it took to write that message!

    • Wilhelm

      LOL! The guy has done nothing for this company beyond lay off a shjt load of people so he can float more cash and keep the train wreck running a little longer.
      And he has those options that he can cash out at the end of his 5 years. Do you honestly think this man is walking away from this without substantial compensation? How naive are you?

    • What are you LOLing at you asked me a question you didnt know the answer to, I told you to Google it and you says this. Troll Squirrel !

      I didn’t say anything about Mr Chen other then 95% of all that compensation was in bonuses which were stocks and were not his salary. What are you one about now?!?

    • But But Chen But But Company Sucks, But But Stock Prices, But But LOL, But But personal insult…

      Seriously dude you really need help!

    • Striker67

      Doesnt Tim Cook also get paid or have received a boatload of stock options?

    • There is a difference between what your base salary is and what you got paid for in the whole year.

  • El Capitan Morgan

    They should have done this years ago.. now everyone trolls on BB and no one even wants to own the product. I still have few friends who sport BB devices and getting tired of sideloading cause it fails sometimes.

    • Wilhelm

      I’ve seen like one Priv out there since it’s introduction and it was a middle aged dude in his late 40’s/50’s Typical demographic this company aims for. One that doesn’t buy devices all that often and hence no money to be made pitching to these people. Then again, what pitch has BB ever made about this thing? Chen expects great things in sales but doesn’t spend a dime marketing.
      The guy is hopeless.

    • Elton Bello

      R u trolling BB now too? Lol

    • its funny how much effort people put into hating something, just move on with your life man, wow some people really have no lives! I’m on here because I enjoy this stuff and pissing off the trolls, their on here because they think people actually care what they think LOL… IM so mad at BlackBerry I’m going to make it my life mission to bash them, wow those are some good life goals man!

    • Elton Bello

      I got no problem with BB, at least its canadian. Hopefully will bring some money back to Canada.

    • I know you dont the other trolls on here do 🙂

    • Elton Bello

      I get mad with android updates. Cant stand apple users get theirs and we dont. If BB will provide timely updates, maybe I jump ship

    • SO far BlackBerry has been on schedule with the first 2 monthly updates, and marshmallow is coming in the next 2 months/ Still has to be carrier approved unless its iOS but that is a carrier thing

    • Wilhelm

      LOL!….Yeah you’re here because you ‘enjoy this stuff” That’s why you reply to every post that speaks against this company like the fanatical Defender of the Faith that you are.
      Puleeze stop insulting my and others’ intelligence out here.

    • I reply to incorrect statements not to opinions unless they are just trolls like you. People watch CNN and mark themselves experts on BB and they are clearly not. I am correcting their mistakes

    • Wilhelm

      No. You attempt to obfuscate and cover up the facts because there are plenty of negatives here that you pay absolutely no attention to but do your utmost to discredit others wiling to point it out.
      Saying things like how Chen made you money to buy your kids presents over Christmas is just pathetic and the actions of a desperate fellow who tries every trick in the book to hype this up even though we all know you’re lying.

    • Caspan

      Awe I’m sorry if it makes you upset when I point out your incorrect arm chair facts from TV guide!

    • El Capitan Morgan

      Of course not! I am a Canadian and I hate seeing Canadian companies go down

      I am just speaking from personal experience so just because you disagreed, that doesn’t mean I am trolling. LOL

    • Elton Bello

      I dont dare to disagree with u lol

    • Nothing you said was troll like you shared your experience, you did it politely, you didn’t force it down our throats, and you didnt do it by calling people names or losing your cool.

      El Captain Morgan does not equal troll 🙂

  • Elton Bello

    Go Burrberry

  • hardy83

    Their next phone should be a cheaper version of the Priv. Flat screen, slightly worse hardware, cheaper material like a plastive body.
    Call it the Priv Curve and sell it for $250-$300 to compete with phones like the moto g

  • I love BB10 and I hope to see more in the future. I kinda only want an update to the classic. Nothing too fancy.

    • Wilhelm

      BB 10 is finished man. What part of that don’t you understand? An OS with less than 1% of market share is not a viable business to keep pushing to satisfy fanboys.

    • You do understand what the word dead means right, you people have been saying this for 5 years since BB10 came out right? or is it 3? I forget what your brain came up with how long BB10 had been out for after being told it was only 3 years old!

    • Wilhelm

      Yeah I do understand. Do you? An OS that has less than half a percent market share and where hardware declines quarter after quarter is not one that has any future left to it.

      Not sure what planet you’re living on but here on Earth that’s called a ‘dead-end’

    • No Dead is dead, dead-ended is not what you said. Just like your announced is the same as released. Lol you can’t even figure out what the English language is and you expect people to even understand your hate speeches? Dead is dead no ifs no butts and by your terms BlackBerry therefor is not dead because they have 1%. Wow you even prove your own comment moot!

    • Wilhelm

      You’re just like that Chinese buffoon. Neither of you “get it”. Just a couple of obtuse individuals you are and you wonder why the stock is bleeding everytime a pump rally fizzles out.
      The same reason it’s dead pal is why analysts keep asking why he stays in a business that doesn’t take an MBA to figure out is going nowhere

    • more arm chair comments… oh you are so smart we all bow to you! Please go away and stop repeating the same garbage Mr. Troll.

      All your comments will be gone by Monday anyways

    • Wilhelm

      lol… Who cares. Jesus. You’re really one weird dude worrying about comments, account bans, trolling. Grow up

    • says the man with all his comments deleted, bye bye mr Troll!

  • Longtin

    Funny how I shed some light on some truth and my comment get’s deleted. I was respectable. It’s easy to fix your smartphone sales. Drop it to $49 on a 2 yr term. Equal value if not more exists for far less than 399.99 on a 2yr term. (LG G4, Nexus 6P etc…)

    • Maybe someone flagged it! not sure sounds like a resonable comment!