BlackBerry will be launching its first Android smartphone at the end of this year, but doubts about the future of the company’s hardware business are still present. Today at the Code Mobile conference, CEO John Chen set a sales goal for its handset division going forward. According to Chen, the company is looking to sell five million smartphone a year – a figure that will keep this part of BlackBerry profitable for the time being.
In terms of BlackBerry 10, Chen has already gone on the record and said we won’t see another BlackBerry 10 device launch in 2015, but new 10.3.3 software would be available for existing devices in March 2016. During the interview, Chen wouldn’t commit to new devices in the future saying “that’s going to be dictated by business choices” the company makes.
BlackBerry’s biggest market for BB10 has been high-security businesses and governments, and since those clients typically don’t upgrade every year, the need for new BlackBerry 10-powered smartphones isn’t as immediate. Of course, BB10 diehards will argue that they’ll purchase these devices themselves, but after the latest quarter showing only 800,000 units sold, it still may not be enough to keep supporting this software going forward.
BlackBerry will be positioning its PRIV device a high-end secure Android smartphone. Chen says they’re working directly with carriers to make sure the PRIV is in as many stores as possible so customers will have a greater chance of making that purchase. It’ll be interesting to see how this new device does in the wild, and how much time John Chen gives the hardware business to get those 5 million units sold before he says enough.
Will you be picking the PRIV by BlackBerry when it launches later this year?