John Chen has to be one of the most likable CEOs in the business. His honest-talking and humble character has won him many fans in the tech industry. What’s more, BlackBerry fans across the globe will credit him for saving the company at a point when it looked doomed. Or, at the very least, stopped it from going extinct. Sadly however, his latest comments might not go down so well with some of the BlackBerry-faithful…
Following news that AT&T’s exclusive has ended, and that Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will all start selling the PRIV soon, John Chen commented saying that the company will only launch one or two phones this year. Neither will launch running BlackBerry OS, rather, the company is going all-out Android in 2016.
While it’s bad news for fans of the Waterloo company’s operating system, it’s good news for those of us who want an Android phone with a decent physical keyboard. The news also suggests BlackBerry’s gamble in launching an Android-powered phone was worth the bet. Chen said that sales of the portrait-slider are “so far, so good,” and that he’s taking a “cautiously optimistic view”.
Previous rumors have clearly pointed towards an Android phone with a more traditional BlackBerry-like form factor. A few months ago, a video showing Android Lollipop running on a Passport Silver Edition clearly indicated that running Google’s software on BlackBerry’s existing hardware was possible. More recent rumors claimed the manufacturer is already working on a device with a non-sliding keyboard, code-named ‘Vienna’. Renders of said device looked like a stretched out Passport.
Eventually, the company hopes to build another BlackBerry OS phone, but Chen wasn’t keen to say when. A lot of its plans are based on the success of the PRIV and whether or not they can turn a profit this year. Android phones are undoubtedly more popular with regular consumers and, as much as it wants to keep its loyal fans happy, it needs to keep the business running to do so.