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BlackBerry emits Android mobe as biz goes down the Priv

Plus: BB10 security updates on the way

BlackBerry officially confirmed the release of its first ever Android phone today, and it shall be known as "Priv". It also promised to maintain its BB10 platform with security updates, with a further release 10.3.3 in March next year.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a "Privy" as "[noun] a toilet located in a small shed outside a house or other building; outhouse." Which is appropriate when you consider the recent history of the business that four years ago was raking in $19bn a year.

BlackBerry also confirmed that sales of devices had fallen below a million in a quarter for the first time in a decade. The fallen phone giant, formerly known as RIM, made a loss of $84m on revenue of $490m in the last quarter (non-GAAP), in an earnings statement issued today.

In 2006, BlackBerry earned $2bn in revenue on sales of around 4m devices in 2006, in a much smaller market, before peaking at revenue of $19bn in 2011.

BlackBerry has buffed up its software and services customer base by acquiring AtHoc for $250m (a deal now complete), and historical handbag target Good Technology for $425m.

Although BlackBerry is trying to increase the software and services part of its mix, hardware still accounts for 41 per cent of revenue.

CEO John Chen confirmed how much smaller the device business was smaller than a year ago: purchase orders with contract manufacturers totalled $248m at the end of the most recent quarter, compared to $344m a year ago, when BlackBerry was introducing the Passport and Classic devices. At the time, BlackBerry hoped the introduction of familiar QWERTY designs would bump sales towards a desired goal of 10m a year, but it didn't do the trick.

Now all the hardware eggs are in one basket, the "Priv" slider. BlackBerry described this as a "flagship handheld device that will run on the Android operating system with BlackBerry security".

According to the blurb that was issued with the earnings, BlackBerry said:

"In combination with BlackBerry's efforts to support Android for Work on the BES12 platform, the new device will offer best in class security for enterprise customers. BlackBerry expects the device to be available late in the calendar year in major markets in-store and online, and will release further details in the coming weeks."

BB10 would get "platform updates focused on security and privacy enhancements" in March.

Ever since its first mobile computer, the "Inter@ctive Pager" released in 1996, BlackBerry has only ever released phones on its proprietary operating systems.®

*Bootnote

"Privy" is also defined as "[adj.] sharing in the knowledge of (something secret or private)", so it's fairly appropriate for an Android phone. We're guessing neither connotation came up in the Strategy Boutique.

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