If you pit three struggling companies against each other, what happens next? In an ideal world for the smartphone enthusiast that wants to see everybody succeed … well, they do. But in reality, things aren’t that simple, and the smartphone market becomes an every-man-for-himself race to see who can innovate faster. Who can pack more features. Who can market their products best. That’s all easy when you’re a giant corporation like Apple or Samsung, with billions of dollars to throw towards whatever research team or ad firm they want, but when you’re financially in the red and literally dying to get people to buy your product, it’s hard to stand out over big names that consumers already recognize. That’s exactly why LG and HTC had better hope that this alleged BlackBerry Android phone is fake.
“If I could find a way to secure the Android phone, I will also build that.” – John Chen, BlackBerry CEO
If you’ve been behind on the news, a quick recap: a few weeks ago, BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen mentioned that the company was playing around with the idea of an Android-powered phone, saying that “if I could find a way to secure the Android phone, I will also build that.” BlackBerry has always been a leader in mobile security, and they certainly wouldn’t want to tarnish that reputation any time soon – especially given their already sinking stature. Recently though, we’ve been seeing rumors and leaks of an Android-based BlackBerry phone after all, dubbed the Venice and taking the form of the slider that we saw back at MWC. The alleged phone will have top-of-the-line specifications (Snapdragon 808, 3 GB RAM, QHD display), and could pave the way for not just one, but a series of Android-powered BlackBerry phones if the device sees reasonable success.
We’ve already speculated on how adopting Android could save BlackBerry from itself, and some of the great things that the once-king of smartphones could bring to the table. As Michael mentioned in his piece, a physical keyboard and BlackBerry’s famous notification Hub are two features that still have yet to be matched by another modern smartphone, and bringing such features to Android could instantly reel back in some of the BlackBerry’s former users who have since moved on. In fact, despite the media’s dismissive nature towards BlackBerry, the company still has a lot to offer, and combining its unique feature set with Android’s ecosystem and reach could be the perfect formula for getting back on the market.
Meanwhile, things aren’t looking so good for LG and HTC. Despite putting out some of the year’s best smartphones so far, both companies continue to fall behind in rankings against competing OEMs, and there have even been rumors floating around of an HTC buyout – though those rumors have since been denied. When even flagship devices like the G4 and the One M9 aren’t enough to swing these companies back into favorable conditions, it’s hard to imagine what would be. But when BlackBerry already has an established brand, compelling hardware, and a reputation for security in a market so engrossed by it, it’s easier to imagine how little it could take to come out on top – or at least, in a better place than it’s currently in.
So what do you think? Is BlackBerry in a good position to improve its circumstances, or are we giving too much credit to a company whose research has ceased motion (okay, that pun was a reach)?